@AuroraWater Pursues New Water Source: Water rights purchase provides environmental benefits

Here’s the release from Aurora Water (Greg Baker):

On Monday evening, Aurora Water received approval from City Council to buy water rights associated with the London Mine, located near Alma, in Park County. 1,411 acre feet (af) is being purchased at a price of $22,000 per af, with additional costs of $3 million for the option to additional water rights as they are developed. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons, enough water to serve 2.5 households on average. The seller of the rights is MineWater Finance, LLC and No Name Investors, both Colorado companies. The total value of this initial sale is $34,042,000. As additional water rights are developed, Aurora may purchase these rights for $21,500 per acre foot. The sellers are confident that the source of the rights could ultimately result in an average annual deliverable of 5,400 af.

The source of this water is from a basin that is recharged from snowmelt on London Mountain. A geologic fault contains the water underground and prevents it from discharging into South Mosquito Creek, a tributary of the South Platte River. This water will be pumped from the basin to a water tunnel in the London Mine and from there, discharged into South Mosquito Creek. Since this water is not naturally connected to the streams, it is decreed under Colorado Water Law as non-tributary. This has special meaning as this water is fully reusable and can be recaptured utilizing Aurora’s Prairie Waters system, a potable reuse system.

Aurora Water has been a national leader in water efficiency, including an acclaimed water reuse system called Prairie Waters, and a nationally recognized water conservation program. Water acquisition is still necessary to meet future demands.

“Looking for new water supplies in the arid west requires innovative thinking,” said Marshall Brown, Director for Aurora Water. “This is a supply that historically has not been tapped by water providers, but the easier supplies are gone.”

The environmentally positive aspects of purchase have resulted in praise from organizations such as the Boulder-based Water Resource Advocates (WRA).

“New water supplies in Colorado are extremely limited and, at the same time, nearly 2,000 miles of streams in Colorado are polluted by mines,” Laura Belanger, Water Resources and Environmental Engineer with WRA stated. “We commend Aurora Water for taking a leadership role in finding this inventive and environmentally beneficial solution to meeting its customers’ water needs.”

The Aurora City Council will vote on the purchase agreement at its regular session on Monday, January 22, 2018. Aurora Water will have a 180 day due diligence period prior to the final closing. Additional water rights under the options provision will be purchased as they are adjudicated and decreed through Colorado’s Water Courts.

Video b-roll of Aurora Water staff touring London Mine with MineWater on November 1, 2017 is available at https://youtu.be/uCNLNvJsu24

Photos of mine and Tour are available from our DropBox location at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/dfv7kd1qi364910/AADyyKHcWctPZrJUy9FpH8kfa?dl=0

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

CDPHE officials on Thursday declined to discuss the London Mine deal. Colorado Department of Natural Resources officials also declined to discuss it.

But “if they have a water right, they may extract the resource,” according to an emailed response that an agency information gatekeeper said could be attributed to Ginny Brannon, director of the agency’s division of reclamation, mining and safety.

State officials didn’t raise any concerns. They say their agency “partners” with others to reduce pollution “and additional partners and funding can always be used to reduce pollution from these large numbers of … inactive mines,” the statement said.

On Monday, Aurora council members, who have discussed the deal with utility officials in an executive session, will consider an initial purchase of 1,400 acre-feet of water for $32 million. That works out to about $22,000 per acre-foot, comparable with what utilities pay to acquire surface water. A second transaction would expand the pumping to extract up to 5,400 acre-feet a year, depending on a state water court determination of what is sustainable.

Money for the deal would come from fees charged to developers of new homes.

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