@CSUtilities may offer water to outlying communities in El Paso County

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam — Photo/MWH Global

From The Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Should the city be a good neighbor and share its water with those who don’t live within its boundaries?

Yes, says the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee, which after a year of study has formed draft recommendations that call for removing barriers for bedroom communities to hook up to city water and wastewater systems. The recommendations — due for delivery to the Utilities Board, composed of City Council members, on March 21 — would lower the cost of hookups by up to 26 percent while opening the door to long-term agreements.

So what’s in it for city ratepayers? Plenty, according to Dave Grossman, Utilities strategic planning and government supervisor. New sales could help pay off debt for the $825 million Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline from Pueblo Reservoir, erase headlines that give the city a bad name and help outside water providers’ groundwater supplies last longer…

Still, the move raises a lot of questions. Why should city ratepayers share their resources with those who chose to live outside city limits, didn’t pay the costs of major Utilities projects and don’t pay city property taxes? Why allow outsiders to become dependent on city water, when the city will likely need that water for its own population in the future? And, at a time when the city is trying to attract more development within city limits, why give away one of the city’s best bargaining chips?

[…]

Until 2010, the city didn’t sell water outside its limits. The policy changed to accommodate sales for three years or less to districts that experienced water shortages or other problems. But they paid 150 percent of city customer charges. There are 11 water districts, six water and wastewater districts and four wastewater districts in El Paso County. Not all would necessarily want to buy city services, but some would.

Many rely largely on groundwater from the Denver Basin, which is rapidly depleting. Despite state and county measures to assure supplies last, the water table continues to drop.

Utilities has had outside deals with Cherokee Metropolitan District east of Powers Boulevard and Donala Water & Sanitation District east of the Air Force Academy. Cherokee needed water temporarily after court decisions prevented its use of some wells, while Donala uses the city’s pipes to convey water it obtained from Pueblo Board of Water Works.

Water districts form such a patchwork that Sean Chambers, who’s worked for several districts and now runs Chambers Econ & Analytics, has teamed with Peak Spatial Enterprises to create an online tool to compile district information in seven counties from Denver to Pueblo. Funded in part by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, it will feature maps, water rates, sources, conservation practices, water quality reports, consumption and the like, listed by address, for use by the public and the real estate industry.

But what if those districts had access to Springs Utilities’ supply? The city’s roughly 140,000 water customers use about 40 million gallons a day during the winter and more than 100 million gallons a day in the summer, Grossman says. If pressed, the city could provide well over that amount short term, he says.

Besides completing SDS in 2016, which increased the city’s water supply by a third, the city’s abundant supply is linked to conservation measures taken since 2001 that reduced per-person consumption from 130 gallons a day to 82. The city’s system also has capacity; the Bailey Water Treatment Plant, part of SDS, runs at about 10 percent capacity.

As for wastewater, the city has plenty of capacity, Grossman reports, for the next 30-plus years.

More than a year ago, Utilities began looking into whether extending service could benefit everyone. For one thing, the Advisory Committee found, water issues anywhere in the Pikes Peak region impact the city’s reputation and the region’s economy.

For example, in 2016, it was found that groundwater wells had been contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from firefighting foam at Peterson Air Force Base. The chemicals fouled wells serving Fountain, Widefield/Security and other areas…

Under the committee’s recommendation, outside users would still pay more than city customers — 120 percent of the normal charge for water and 110 percent for wastewater. Currently, the city charges 150 percent for both…

Districts aren’t apt to buy their entire supplies from the city, however, Chambers says. That’s because their goal is conjunctive use — a combination of wells and surface water; if districts can buy water during wet years and pump from their wells in dry years, the aquifer gets a rest and a chance to recharge, he says.

That’s the concept behind WISE (Water, Infrastructure and Supply Efficiency), a coalition of 12 entities, including Denver Water, Aurora Water and the South Metro Water Supply Authority created after the 2002 drought.

Chambers notes that outside sales could help the city retire debt and fund maintenance and operations. Having attended most of the committee’s meetings, Chambers attests the city’s top goal is to serve existing customers. “Utilities has been very protective,” he says, “saying regionalization will not happen unless it’s a benefit to the citizen owners and ratepayers.”

For example, Grossman notes the committee wants to include options for conveying and treating water, but that no outside contracts would be executed if they’d erode the city’s targeted storage benchmarks.

Cherokee Metro district chief resigns — the Colorado Springs Independent

Upper Black Squirrel Creek Designated Groundwater Basin
Upper Black Squirrel
Creek Designated Groundwater Basin

From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zebeck):

Sean Chambers, executive director of the Cherokee Metropolitan District located northeast of Highway 24 and Powers Boulevard on the city’s east side, has submitted his resignation, effective June 30.

Paid $100,000 a year, Chambers expects to receive a year’s severance pay under an employment agreement, he says when reached by phone.

Chambers was hired in 2010 amid continuing turmoil over a source of water after the district became embroiled in legal action regarding its use of water from a neighboring groundwater district. He succeeded Kip Peterson, long time manager of the district, who was given severance pay of 13 months pay and a vehicle, according to media reports at the time.

Former board member Steve Hasbrouk says the district was under investigation for various questionable business practices, but Chambers says the Sheriff’s Office concluded there was no wrong-doing last fall. The Sheriff’s Office confirms that.

Hasbrouk, who says he believes the investigation is continuing, left the board in 2012 after serving just over one term. He stopped going to meetings shortly after he was elected to a second term, because he says he got tired of being demonized for pushing questions about how the district was being run.

Since years ago when the legal action erupted over use of water from the neighboring groundwater district, including when the district had to buy water from Colorado Springs and the departure of Peterson, the district has been an unceasing source of drama.

But Chambers says he’s leaving simply to spend more time with his family.

“I’ve got two young kids, and I’m just in a position to spend a little bit more time focusing on their needs, and I value being a good father, and the demands of this position are such that someone doesn’t get the attention from me they deserve,” he says. Chambers says he has no job lined up after he leaves the district.

He also claims he’s left the district in better financial condition than he found it. Reserves, according to Hasbrouk, totaled $12 million when Chambers was hired. Chambers says reserve funds now sit at about $7 million, but notes a $10 million bond issue is now paid off. He also says the district is in a better position to add to its base of 8,300 customers.

“We do have an adequate water supply for the first time since 2004,” he says. “The district can write a commitment to serve a new housing project or new commercial development. It took more than 11 years to acquire water rights, build the connecting infrastructure and get to where the state agreed with our accounting.”

Water district fights for relaxed quality standard — The Colorado Springs Gazette

Upper Black Squirrell Creek Designated Groundwater Basin
Upper Black Squirrell
Creek Designated Groundwater Basin

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Ryan Maye Handy):

For years, the Cherokee Metropolitan District has failed to meet one of its water quality standards, and the eastern El Paso County water district has proposed a change in state regulations to make it easier to meet that requirement.

The proposal has started an unorthodox process with the state’s Water Quality Control Commission to allow the district to have a higher level of dissolved solids – like salt – in its water. The change would only affect wells in the district, but the proposal has raised concerns from well-owners about the health of the system’s aquifer and prompted three stakeholder meetings before a rulemaking hearing in August.

The Upper Black Squirrel Creek aquifer has already been degraded by the number of wells that tap into it, well owners argue. Wells in the Cherokee district pull from an aquifer that is recharged with treated wastewater – water that, under a new requirement, would have more dissolved solids. If Cherokee fails to change regulations for its so-called “total dissolved solids” levels, it will have to spend tens of millions of dollars to meet current state requirements – a cost that will be borne by the district’s ratepayers.

The problems date back to 2010, when a new waste water treatment facility was completed without machines to treat water for total dissolved solids, known as TDS. At a Tuesday stakeholder meeting, the first in a series, Cherokee’s General Manager Sean Chambers described the consequences of this to a group of around 30 people.

“So whatever comes in the waste water plant in terms of total dissolved solids comes out the other end,” Chambers said. “Thus, we have a $30 million waste water plant that does not treat a lick of TDS.”

The district’s drinking water quality more than complies with state requirements for dissolved solids levels, but the levels in waste water pose problems. The water district typically measures 600 mg per liter of dissolved solids in its treated waste water, well over the state requirement of 400 mg per liter, said Chambers. Ever since the district opened its new facility in 2010, it has never been compliant with state standards for dissolved solids. By changing the level allowed in its water, the district hopes to save $10 million on costs over the next 20 years while it tries to become compliant.

On Tuesday, the district emphasized that dissolved solids in its water do not pose a public health risk, but only affect the water’s taste. Most water districts around the country adhere to the federal standard of 500 mg per liter of dissolved solids, except for Texas, which has its threshold set at 1,000 mg per liter, said Andrew Ross, with the state’s water control commission.

While the water district is aiming for compliance, well owners fear that more dissolved solids will continue to degrade the quality of the aquifer, said Jerod Farmer, a well owner who attended Tuesday’s meeting. Officials with the water quality control commission acknowledge that a higher presence of those solids in water can impact the aquifer’s quality.

Unlike surface water, which is regulated for quality at the federal level, groundwater quality is regulated on a state-by-state basis. Colorado’s groundwater regulations have remained relatively unchanged since the 1980s, when two regulatory structures were set up- one for statewide regulation, and another to grant individual exceptions to the state’s rules.

The Cherokee district is unique in Colorado – it has the largest facility in the state that dumps its waste water back into the groundwater. Its request to change the dissolved solids requirements in its waste water is equally unusual – the water quality commission rarely handles regulatory changes proposed by an outside agency, representatives said on Friday.

The public will get two more chances to learn about the proposed changes at stakeholder meetings on Feb. 11, time and location to be determined, and March 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., location to be determined. Both will help the commission gather as much public opinion and information as possible before the August hearing, said Lisa Carlson, who facilitated Tuesday’s meeting.

“The hope is that, when you get to the hearing, you will all be well educated and understand what the issues are in the process,” Carlson told the audience.

Several El Paso County water suppliers are interested in Southern Delivery System deliveries

Southern Delivery System route map -- Graphic/Reclamation
Southern Delivery System route map — Graphic/USBR

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Even before a drop of water flows through Southern Delivery System, other El Paso County communities are making plans to hook up to the pipeline.

Donala Water & Sanitation District, which serves 2,600 people north of Colorado Springs plans to begin an environmental impact statement process with Bureau of Reclamation within the next two weeks in order to obtain a long-term storage contract in Lake Pueblo.

Cherokee Metro District, serving about 18,000 people in a community surrounded by Colorado Springs, wants to hook up to SDS in the future.

Those communities will be held to the same environmental commitments, including federal environmental review and stormwater management, under Pueblo County’s 1041 permit.

Donala purchased a ranch south of Leadville for its water rights in 2009, but will need SDS to deliver about 280 acrefeet annually — about 25 percent of its needs. “We have been talking to the city for years,” said Kip Peterson, manager of the Donala District. Donala already has a temporary contract in place to use Colorado Springs water delivery systems to deliver water from the ranch.

Stormwater controls are problematic, because 95 percent of the land in Donala already has been developed, but the district is looking at how to amend its plan to address stormwater, Peterson said.

Like Donala, Cherokee has a contract to buy water from or have its water delivered by Colorado Springs Utilities. Cherokee has a two-year lease from the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Cherokee gets most of its water from wells, but needs additional sources to round out its supply. “Unlike Donala, we don’t yet own any water we could store in Lake Pueblo,” said Sean Chambers, Cherokee manager.

But Cherokee is interested in using SDS for the long-term. Like Colorado Springs, it has some water and wastewater lines that cross Sand Creek, a tributary of Fountain Creek. Those would be held to the same level of scrutiny as Colorado Springs lines.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

The Cherokee Metropolitan District scores a 600 acre-feet water lease from the Pueblo Board of Water Works

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Pueblo Board of Water Works Tuesday approved a two­year lease of water to the Cherokee Metropolitan District in Colorado Springs.

The district is located just north of the Colorado Springs airport and serves about 18,000 people, said Sean Chambers, general manager of the district.

“When we were formed, Colorado Springs did not think it would extend services,” Chambers said. “Now, we are an island within the city.”

The district formed in 1957, and went through a series of reorganizations, consolidations and expansions until 1995. It lost water court cases that have reduced its ability to pump from the Upper Black Squirrel Creek and Chico Creek aquifers.

The district will lease 600 acre­feet of water (almost 200 million gallons) yearly from Pueblo in 2013 and 2014 at a rate $366.25 per acre­foot or $219,750 per year. Any rate increases for Pueblo water would increase the payment by the same percentage. The amount is within Pueblo’s projected surplus, but in an emergency the delivery could be canceled “This is just a bridge for us,” Chambers said. “We would not be relying on short­term leases such as this for a water supply.”

Cherokee is drilling wells and building a pipeline in northern El Paso County to deliver 1,000 acre­feet annually to meet its long­term needs, Chambers said.

The district has implemented conservation measures, which include outdoor watering no more than three times per week, and sometimes has banned outdoor watering altogether.

Cherokee has an agreement with Colorado Springs to deliver water to its system. The water would be exchanged from Pueblo’s accounts into the Colorado Springs system at Twin Lakes for delivery, said Terry Book, executive director of the Pueblo water board.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

The Pueblo Board of Water Works is investigating an idea to create wetlands banks at its Tennessee Creek Ranches property north of Leadville in Lake County.

The water board Tuesday approved a contract of up to $25,000 with Johnson Environmental Consulting to look at the concept of mitigating wetlands in order to offset impacts from projects elsewhere.

The idea is to replace wetland areas destroyed by activities such as highway projects or reservoir construction by creating permanent areas to “bank” wetlands, said Executive Director Terry Book.

“I like the intent,” said board member Tom Autobee, in making a motion to approve the contract.

The Pueblo Water Board has looked at building a reservoir on the Tennessee Creek site since 1950, but those plans hit a snag in the late 1990s when fens — ancient marshy areas — were located on the site.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Former ponds west of Pueblo once owned by Valco are now incorporated into Lake Pueblo State Park.
Keeping water in them has become the responsibility of the Pueblo Board of Water Works, and a pending water court case will allow more efficient use of old ditch rights to meet that need.

The water board acquired the Hamp-Bell Ditch water rights from Valco in 2004. The ditch diverted a relatively small amount of water, accruing more credits in the irrigation season than at other times of year.

To balance the credits year-round, the water board will apply for storage rights.

“Currently, the board replaces the nonirrigation season depletions from its other water supplies and the excess Hamp-Bell

Ditch water from the irrigation season often goes unused,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager, in a memo.
The complex historic use issues surrounding the ditch — which has 1870, 1878 and 1880 water rights — were settled in Valco’s 2003 court case, making the new case fairly straightforward, Ward added.

“We should get a net gain of water to store,” added Executive Director Terry Book.

The water board unanimously approved to enter a water court application to complete the plan.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here and here.

Cherokee Metropolitan District ousts absentee director

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Bob Stephens):

A May recall failed to oust three members of the district board of directors, leaving the panel split 3-2. That split was on display Tuesday as board member Steve Hasbrouck was voted off for missing three consecutive meetings. So, once again, applications are being accepted for the vacancy and a special meeting is scheduled Aug. 29 to appoint a new board member.

This is typical for 8,000 homeowners in the district. They’ve endured astronomical rate hikes, reaching 87 percent, and water rationing since the board took bad legal advice and used water from the Upper Black Squirrel Basin without proper water rights. Cherokee lost a court battle and was ordered by a water court judge to abandon four of its 17 wells. Those wells provided more than 20 percent of Cherokee’s water supply. To replace the lost wells, Cherokee has been forced to buy expensive water from Colorado Springs Utilities, causing rates to soar.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Cherokee Metropolitan District board members survive recall effort

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From email from Jan Cederberg: “I thought I would let you know we won the recall!”

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Bob Stepens):

Nothing changed in the Cherokee Metropolitan District as Tuesday’s attempt to recall three board members was unsuccessful. Jan Cederberg, Dave Hammers and Bill Beahan all survived the recall effort.

“I was worried,” Cederberg said. “I’m just so happy that people listened to what we were telling them and that we are going to finish our time on the board and do our job.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Recall election in the works for the Cherokee Metropolitan District

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From KRDO.com:

The recall process began at the end of 2011 and petitions were approved on Feb. 14, 2012. Cherokee Water customers will vote on May 22nd to recall President Dave Hammers and Directors Bill Beahan and Jan Cederberg. Cederberg said the three protested the recall petitions in front of El Paso County Clerk and Recorder, Wayne Williams. She said many voters were not told about the recall when asked to sign the petition. “We have witnesses that were told if they signed, their water rates wouldn’t go up,” she said.

Steve Hasbrouck, current water board member and member of the citizens group, said the recall petition was deemed sufficient with ample signatures above the 300 signature threshold and was certified by Waybe Williams, the court appointed DEO and Clerk and Recorder for El Paso County on March 12, 2012. He said all protests by Hammers, Cederberg and Beahan were deemed irrelevant by Williams, so the recall moved forward.

The group behind the recall blames the three board members for the district having less water and higher rates. “The charges against us include secret meetings, bonding issues and getting rid of previous management, which isn’t true,” said Cederberg…

Cederberg blames the district’s financial and water situation on the former board members who were recalled in 2010 and said it’s the same people trying to recall her now. “People need to look at all the facts. Look at the people in the concerned citizens group, they’re former board members. They are the reason we’re in this mess,” she said.

More coverage from the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Once again, there’s trouble on the east side of Colorado Springs, with voters submitting sufficient numbers of signatures to hold a recall election for three Cherokee Metropolitan District board members: Jan Cederberg, David Hammers and William E. Beahan…

The election is set for May 22, despite protests by those being recalled.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

How much water will the Niobrara shale play under eastern Colorado Springs require and where will it come from?

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From the Colorado Springs Independent (Pam Zubeck):

Colorado Springs Utilities is required to serve Banning Lewis Ranch under the annexation agreement, in which the annexor relinquishes the land’s water rights to the city forever, except for 2,000 acre feet of groundwater on the south end. That water, about 652 million gallons, is to be split between the city and annexor.

But Utilities, still building the SDS pipeline, hasn’t heard a water request from Ultra, says spokesman Dave Grossman. He says the city doesn’t know how much is needed, because “fracking is new to our area, so we don’t have past data for planning purposes.” Ultra did not respond to a request for comment for this story, but Montgomery says 1 million to 5 million gallons is used per frack.

If the 326 million gallons to which Ultra would have access under the annexation agreement isn’t enough, and the company doesn’t want to buy water from Utilities, Cherokee Metropolitan District, which serves the 18,000-customer Cimarron Hills enclave east of Powers Boulevard, is open to the idea of selling water, manager Sean Chambers says. Five years ago, Cherokee lost its use of several wells in the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District, east of its service area, after illegally exporting water from the basin to its customers.

Chambers now wonders if that water, which Cherokee still owns, could be sold to drillers.

“We would consider it, so long as we were assured certain protections and we could confirm our decrees are consistent with what’s allowable,” he says. “The state is a little unsure … They don’t want this oil bonanza to turn into a water problem.”[…]

[Charlie Montgomery, energy organizer of the Colorado Environmental Coalition] says the next battle will be over local control. The Pueblo Chieftain has reported that Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, wants to require a more comprehensive state accounting of oil and gas drilling’s water needs. Meanwhile, the Longmont Times-Call says that Rep. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, wants to give local governments more control over the industry, including fracking.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Colorado Springs Utilities will book significant revenue from their supply deal with the Cherokee Metropolitan District

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (John Schroyer):

Utilities has been working on a deal with The Cherokee Water District, on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs, under which Utilities will deliver a minimum of 500 acre-feet of water per year. That could net up to $738,000 for the city next year, and as much as $900,000 in 2013. And the deal, as they say, is nearly sealed.

Cherokee relies mainly on groundwater [ed. Upper Black Squirrel designated groundwater basin], but as time goes on that source has been dwindling. In the past, Utilities has provided water to Cherokee on an emergency basis, but last April, the City Council gave Utilities the go-ahead to write up a contract that would grant Cherokee reliable water delivery.

On Wednesday, Utilities Water Services Division General Manager Wayne Vanderschuere presented the contract to the board. Under its terms, Cherokee has to pay Utilities at least $2.4 million next year for a minimum of 500 acre-feet of water service, with a cap of 1,000 acre-feet for $4.4 million. The price, which Vanderschuere said is expensive, is 9.32 cents per cubic foot. That price, however, can be reduced for Cherokee if it finds alternate sources for water, instead of buying directly from Utilities. Cherokee still would have to pay for delivery (i.e. use of Utilities’ piping system), but Utilities could save more water for its residential customers. The city’s share of the $2.4 million minimum is $400,529, and the maximum is $738,833. In 2013, the minimum would drop to $299,186, but the maximum would increase to $907,710.

Board President Scott Hente practically clapped his hands in delight. “It’s a win for all of us,” Hente said happily. “There are all kinds of things we could do with that money. We worked out a great deal.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

The Cherokee Metropolitan District is buying the Sundance Ranch in northern El Paso County for 1,000 acre-feet of non-renewable Denver Basin aquifer system water

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Cherokee Metropolitan District on Tuesday chose to buy Denver Basin aquifers water rights from the Sundance Ranch in northern El Paso County from the Greenland Basin Pipeline Co. Cherokee will build the pipeline from the ranch, which is roughly 15 miles to the north. The water rights, pipeline and storage for the project will cost about $19.5 million for an annual yield of about 1,000 acre-feet…

A proposal by GP Water, which wants to build a 150-mile pipeline from Lamar to serve the Front Range with treated water, was put on hold but not totally rejected, said Sean Chambers, manager of the Cherokee district. GP Water, a Littleton company associated with C&A Holding Co., proposed a short-term water supply from wells near the Elizabeth area in Elbert County as a short-term solution for Cherokee. Water from the Lamar pipeline would be used to meet greater needs in the future.

“We need to know we wouldn’t be the only ones signing up,” Chambers said. “Forty years is a long term for encumbrance of debt, and we didn’t want to be the only ones at the table.”[…]

The purchase of the Sundance Ranch should tide Cherokee over for 10 years, the term of the bonds that will finance the project, he added. During that time, the district plans to look at its other options, which include the Southern Delivery System now being built by Colorado Springs, and the Lamar pipeline. There could be other possible sources of a new water supply as well — the district recently reviewed eight different proposals before deciding on the Sundance Ranch purchase…

Cherokee wants time to get a better idea of the dry-year yield of the Lamar ditch and sort out issues with the Arkansas River Compact associated with GP’s plan to build the Lamar pipeline, Chambers said. The compact between Colorado and Kansas has a provision against moving water out of the region unless it can be proved that it would cause no depletion in state-line flows.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here.

Lamar Pipeline: Karl Nyquist — ‘Our entire focus is on El Paso and Elbert counties…There is enough demand in those two counties’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Our project will continue to move forward, the service plan amendment would have allowed Elbert County to participate in the benefits,” said Karl Nyquist, a partner in GP Water. “The service plan amendment was certainly not necessary for the project as proposed and we will move forward as planned.”[…]

Bill Long, president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, doubts the cost figures that GP has shared so far, and said the pipeline would do little to meet the state’s municipal water gap. “I’m not at all surprised they pulled the Elbert County proposal,” Long said. “My hope is they could get behind a better long-term solution than one which has such a detrimental impact to one small area in a basin that is already water-short. In my mind, they aren’t even close to being a part of the solution.”[…]

The expansion of the authority of the Elbert County and Highway 86 Commercial District, which was formed by the GP partners to provide area water service, would have expedited both water plans and provided additional revenue to Elbert County, but Nyquist said there are other ways to pursue the project.

Hundreds who attended a Wednesday Elbert County commissioners meeting cheered when it was announced that the proposal to expand the district was withdrawn. GP Water hosted two public meetings in the county, but apparently did not convince enough people it was good for the county…

The pipeline would be designed to pump up to 12,000 acre-feet annually, but GP estimates its yield from water rights it owns would be an average of 8,000-10,000 acre-feet annually. Nyquist says treated water will sell for $6-$7 per 1,000 gallons, a competitive rate. Negotiations with several potential end users are under way, including the Cherokee Water District near Colorado Springs. Nyquist said other negotiations are confidential, but focus on El Paso County.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

El Paso County: Cherokee Metropolitan District president ousted in recall election

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

Voters in the Cherokee Metropolitan District decisively ousted their leader Tuesday, ending a long and combative recall effort to kick water board president Robert Lovato from the post he has held for six years. An overwhelming 82 percent of 1,613 people who cast ballots in the beleaguered water district voted to recall Lovato. About 15 percent of the nearly 11,000 registered voters in the district cast ballots in the election…

In dismissing Lovato, residents in the district elected Larry Keleher, a retired Colorado Springs firefighter, to join a board made infamous for its bickering and lack of progress in finding a cheap, sustainable source of water. No one else ran for the position.

Residents in the district have endured steep rate hikes since the board took poor legal advice and illegally used water from the Upper Black Squirrel Basin. The cascade of water rate increases in recent years were needed to pay for mounting legal fees and the high cost of purchasing water.

While short on specific ideas to help the parched water district, Keleher said he wants to “bring back the respect and bring back the trust of the people.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Cherokee Metropolitan District recall election December 7

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From The Colorado Springs Gazette (John C. Ensslin):

4th Judicial District Judge David L. Shakes refused to intervene in the recall vote against Robert Lovato after hearing a day and a half of testimony about alleged irregularities in the petition-gathering process. Before issuing a lengthy ruling from the bench, Shakes said he wanted to make it clear he wasn’t taking sides in the recall. “That issue is a political matter and is up to the voters,” he said.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Cherokee Metropolitan District looks to Colorado Springs Utilities for help in meeting summer demand

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From KRDO.com (Mireya Garcia):

In the last agreement, Cherokee provided it’s own water, and Colorado Springs provided services – -that aid ended in 2009. The current proposed agreement is different. Cherokee is asking for both water and services from the Springs. “We are in a really good situation in terms of having a robust water supply, so Cherokee approached us and explained their need for drinking water in their system,” says Patrice Quintero, of Colorado Springs Utilities.

The agreement will take effect Wednesday if approved by the Colorado Springs City Council on Tuesday. It would include provisions to prevent any sale of the water and services that would violate city code. “As we understand it, they are in a critical situation where their residents are in need of safe and reliable drinking water, ” Quintero tells NEWSCHANNEL13.

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Cherokee Metropolitan District regulatory filing snafu leads to shutdown of four wells

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From the Colorado Springs Gazette (Jon Lentz):

Cherokee’s attorneys submitted the paperwork on three of the wells in 2005, but not within the required two-year period after each became operational. The attorneys also were two days late on the application for the fourth well in 2006. “The judge made his ruling that late is late, and vacated those water rights,” said Kip Peterson, Cherokee’s general manager. The district will file for reconsideration Thursday with the Pueblo Water Court, which ruled against Cherokee on July 28. “If that fails, there would be a Supreme Court request,” Peterson said.

The order comes nearly three years after a state Supreme Court decision reduced the district’s water well production by 40 percent, leading to strict watering rules for residents. The latest ruling cuts the district’s 2006 production by more than half, Peterson said…

The motion to shut down Cherokee’s wells was filed in January by the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District. The group oversees the Upper Black Squirrel Creek groundwater basin, where Cherokee gets a portion of its water. In certain cases, the group can limit how much water Cherokee withdraws. In 2006, Cherokee lost a state Supreme Court battle with Upper Black Squirrel Creek after committing to supply customers within its boundaries, but outside the basin…

“These are water rights that should’ve been filed five years ago, in some cases seven years ago,” Peterson said. “This is definitely a decision that the district did not anticipate.”

More Cherokee Metropolitan District coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System: New customers for CSU’s water?

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Now that Colorado Springs Utilities has essentially gotten the “green light” for their proposed Southern Delivery System the utility has started mapping out their customer base. Here’s a report from R. Scott Rappold writing in the Colorado Springs Gazette. From the article:

“What we’ve got to do – and it’s not an easy project at all – is to try to identify those other entities that are actually going to need the service and make sure they understand their present supply could be lost at any time if those aquifers dry up,” said Tony Elia, chair of the Utilities Policy Advisory Committee, a citizens group that advises City Council on Utilities issues.

There are many questions, the toughest of which may be how Utilities can offer water from SDS when its own projections say the city will need all of it some day. While the housing slowdown means all 78 million gallons a day won’t be needed by 2046, the year originally projected, officials say the day will come when all of it is needed. Said Elia, “You can’t tell them you’ve got to commit to 5 million gallons a day but we can take it back any time we want. If you give it to them, it’s permanent.”

Colorado Springs has always guarded its water jealously, extending water service primarily to annexed developments. While Utilities’ electric power grid serves several communities, 208,737 homes and businesses, it has 132,637 water customers. Just a few hundred customers outside the city get its water, at 1.5 times the normal cost. Utilities has two temporary sharing agreements, one to transport water owned by Manitou Springs to that city and the other to sell up to 500 acre-feet a year to the Cherokee Metropolitan District on the east side of Colorado Springs…

“We have to be able to distinguish between Colorado Springs’ water rights and the water rights owned by other entities outside the city. If you are providing your water rights to another entity, you’re basically giving them up, and we’re not going to do that,” said Mayor Lionel Rivera. He said the focus should be on using SDS to carry water that other users own, not agreeing to sell Colorado Springs’ water over a long period – though he is open to selling it on a short-term basis in wet years…

[The Cherokee Metropolitan District] suffers chronic water shortages, and customers this spring face watering restrictions at a time when supplies are abundant elsewhere. [Kip Petersen, general manager] said there is water available for purchase from Arkansas River Valley farmers, but no way to get it here – and the district would also be interested in buying from the city to augment its supply, if the price is right. “There is definitely interest in participating in the Southern Delivery System. Now we’ve got to figure out how it’s going to get done,” he said…

The Utilities Policy Advisory Council, a committee of residents that advises City Council, will begin discussing regional water-sharing Wednesday. The board meets at 8 a.m. in the Blue River Board Room, Fifth Floor, Plaza of the Rockies South Tower, 121 S. Tejon St. The meeting is open to the public.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.