GP Resources files change of use application


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We’re looking for versatility for other uses,” said Bill Grasmick, who sold water rights to GP and continues to farm for the Littleton-based company. “We’re adding some ability to use the wells for other local uses, such as water for oil wells. It’s the ability to change the use from irrigation, but it may not ever be used.” Grasmick is also a member of the board of the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, which filed the application in Division 2 water court last month.

The application also includes four wells owned by the Santa Fe Trail River Ranch, six by Ronald Wollert and two by the East Prowers Cemetery District.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: The Lower Ark Board listened politely (and critically) to GP Resources’ project preview yesterday


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The board had questions about the projected yield of the project, the problem of brine disposal from a proposed treatment plant and the idea of moving water out of the Arkansas Valley — which goes against the mission adopted by the district after voters formed it in 2002. “I compliment your approach, opposed as I am to any water leaving the valley,” said Reeves Brown, a Beulah rancher who sits on the Lower Ark board. “There’s a limit to what we think agriculture can give up in order to support growth in Colorado.”[…]

Upon questioning from the Lower Ark board, Nyquist said the only definite use for the water is in Elbert County. The Cherokee Metro District in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock in Douglas County have been approached, but decided on other options, at least in the short term, Nyquist said. “Right now, the pipeline ends at Falcon,” Nyquist said.

“It’s only a short distance to Reuter-Hess Reservoir (in Parker), which has 60,000 acre-feet of empty storage space,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district…

GP is looking at either deep injection of brine or a solar heating system that would evaporate the water [ed. by-product of the proposed reverse osmosis water treatment plant]. The heating system, which could also generate steam to power turbines, has not been tested on a large scale, Nyquist said. It would also generate 16 truckloads of salt per week. “It could be used as sidewalk deicer,” Nyquist said. “As a private business, we will figure out another manufacturing opportunity for something that would just be waste.”[…]

[Karl Nyquist] said the assessed valuation of the ground on which the treatment plant is built would be greater than the value of the ground dried up. The combined wages from jobs at the treatment plant, reservoir and continued farm operations would more than make up for the temporary farm jobs that would be lost as a result of the dry-up, Nyquist said.

More Lamar pipeline coverage 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


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: Former University of Colorado researcher urges in-depth analysis of the proposed project


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“If an area is in economic decline, you want to slow the decline, you don’t want to make it worse,” said Ken Weber, an anthropologist who wrote numerous reports on economic changes in Crowley County and the Great Plains as a researcher at the University of Colorado from 1986-1996. Weber, 67, grew up in LaJunta in the 1950s, and returned to the area a few years ago to live in Pueblo after working for two federal agencies. Weber frequently attends area water meetings and had a hand in creating the Arkansas Basin Roundtable agriculture-urban transfers report and tipping-point study…

Crowley County already was in decline by the time Colorado Springs and Aurora purchased most of the remaining water rights on the Colorado Canal in the 1980s. Its population dropped to less than 3,000 in the 1980 Census, less than half of its peak in 1920. Prowers County is on a similar path. Its population peaked in 1950 at nearly 15,000. In 2010, the population dropped to its lowest point, 12,551. Irrigated agriculture in Prowers County has suffered through decades of economic turbulence, as witnessed by the sale of many farms on the Fort Lyon Canal to water developers and half of the farms on the Amity Canal to Tri-State Generation and Transmission…

Unlike past water grabs, the GP plan has included an incentive for Prowers County — a water treatment plant. Bill Grasmick, a longtime farmer whose family sold water rights to GP Water, called the plan “economic development” for Lamar. An economic analysis, prepared by GP as part of a water-service bid, says the equivalent of 41 full-time farm-labor jobs would be lost when the water is taken off 4,000 acres of ground. Those jobs would be replaced by 13 jobs in the water treatment plant and seven jobs at a gravel mining operation. The payroll would increase to $3.3 million a year with the new jobs from the existing $2 million paid annually from the present farming operation. Property taxes would go up to more than $600,000 from $15,000 on the land, with the water treatment plant and gravel operations, according to Peter Elzi, of THK Associates, a GP planning consultant…

“We can know the engineering and technical parts of a project, but not the economic and social part,” Weber said. “All of this operates in a social and historical context, and to the extent we ignore that context, our decisions are somewhat blind.”

More coverage from the Castle Rock News Press (Ashley Dieterle):

A 12-month moratorium on service plans and service-plan amendments related to water districts was passed by the Elbert Board of County Commissioners during the Sept. 14 board meeting. The moratorium also applies to water sanitation districts and metropolitan districts that provide water services. The moratorium stemmed from the application withdrawal of an amendment to the service plan for the Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metropolitan District during an Aug. 24 board meeting. The controversial petition, which would have allowed a 150-mile pipeline transporting water from Lamar to the county, was withdrawn when county residents were unhappy with the commissioners for allowing the petition to reach public hearing.

More Lamar Pipeline coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: Arkansas River basin roundtable members had many questions for Karl Nyquist yesterday


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Questions about cost, economic impact, water quality and whether the project is speculative greeted Karl Nyquist, a partner in GP Water, which is proposing a 150-mile, $350 million pipeline from the Lamar Canal to northern El Paso County and other points along the Front Range. Up to 12,000 acre-feet of water annually could be delivered…

“You’ve said the water template [ed. ag water transfers template developed by the Arkansas basin roundtable] would be used as a guide, how does it get enforced?” asked Dave Taussig, an attorney from Lincoln County.

Nyquist responded that a change case in Water Court, when it is filed, would protect other water rights in the Arkansas Valley. The socioeconomic concerns identified in the roundtable report could be addressed in the Prowers County 1041 land-use process, he added…

Others wanted to know if GP Water was merely a water speculator. “We own the water and won’t go to court until we have end users in mind,” Nyquist said.

During his presentation, he said GP has bid for water service to Cherokee, Castle Rock, Bennett, the district it controls in Elbert County and others. Nyquist said the plan had come to light through media reports before it was fully formed…

The project includes a reservoir, underground storage and treatment plant near Lamar in Prowers County, which Nyquist said would more than offset the loss of agricultural jobs…

GP submitted a proposal to the Cherokee Metropolitan District in Colorado Springs to provide up to 4,000 acre-feet annually for $7 per 1,000 gallons. That works out to about $9 million per year for about one-third of the projected supply…

GP plans to reduce its storage costs by using underground reservoirs, which will cut down on water losses from evaporation. Water quality is better during high flows when GP would store the water, Nyquist explained…

About 40,000 acre-feet of underground storage is available under the ground GP owns. GP estimates its water rights would yield an average of 8,000-10,000 acre-feet annually to move from the Arkansas River basin.

Brine from the treatment plant — which Nyquist said would be about 3-5 percent of the total water supply — would be injected 4,000-8,000 feet underground into formations that are already watered, Nyquist added.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: Developer of the proposed pipeline to brief the Arkansas Basin roundtable Wednesday


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Karl Nyquist, a partner with GP Water, will discuss his proposal to build a reservoir and treatment plant at Lamar in order to move up to 12,000 acre-feet annually to growing Front Range communities. This will be the first presentation to the roundtable on the plan, which came to light in July when Nyquist and his partners asked the Elbert County commissioners to expand the Elbert and Highway 84 Commercial Metro District, which they control, as a way to expedite the project. The company has proposed using the roundtable’s report “Considerations for Agriculture to Urban Water Transfers” as a way to identify third-party impacts if water is moved from Prowers County, a rural area historically dependent on its farm economy, to growing cities on the Front Range…

GP Water proposes to pump water from Denver Basin aquifers in Elbert County to supply the Cherokee Metro District in Colorado Springs. In the long-term, GP proposes to pump treated water from Lamar to Cherokee and other users. Nyquist held five public meetings in Prowers, Elbert and El Paso counties during August to explain the plan to local communities that would be involved. About 1,000 people showed up to protest the expansion of the district at an Aug. 24 Elbert County commissioners meeting. The district withdrew its application in response to the public opposition, but Nyquist said the company will still work toward building the pipeline project…

The Lamar Canal is closely tied to the Granada Ditch, where some irrigators are fearful of what could happen to their water deliveries if the GP project is developed.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

Lamar pipeline: GP Resources LLC launches ‘Southeast Renewable Water Initiative’ website


Say hello to the GP Resources LLC Southeast Renewable Water Initiative website. From the “concept” page:

GP Resources, LLC, is a Colorado-based agriculture and natural resources company committed to providing treated drinking water and water storage for users throughout the Front Range and southeastern Colorado as part of a new regional water project intended to serve as a model for how in-state water transfers can be structured in a way that benefits all stakeholders.

The project involves limited amounts of ground water from Elbert County and a significant amount of agricultural surface water from the lower Arkansas River, both of which are privately owned by GP Resources. It is anticipated that the project will create jobs and provide homeowners and businesses with access to much-needed renewable water supplies, helping solve the increasing problems associated with reliance on aquifer resources.

In an effort to make this project a model for how water transfers should be done, GP will take guidance from the Water Transfer Template developed by the Arkansas River Roundtable as a framework for addressing the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.

Significant groundwork has gone into project analysis, finance, and planning. Key components include:

Investments in equipment, systems, and practices to increase the efficiencies of current water consumption on GP’s farms based in Lamar. Large portions of the farms will continue to be irrigated after the project is completed and the remaining water will become available for municipal use after going through Colorado’s mandated water court process. The court process ensures that downstream agricultural and municipal users will not be adversely affected by the change in use. Since this is an existing diversion, the project will not remove any water from the Arkansas basin that is not already being consumed and therefore should have minimal environmental impact. In addition, all required permitting processes will be followed and the project will comply with the Arkansas River Compact.

Investments in GP’s water rights and systems in Elbert County, involving a local water District to provide the transmission of GP’s privately owned and adjudicated water on an interim basis to a water District in the greater Colorado Springs area. This will include construction of a below-ground pipeline through or adjacent to an existing service easement for most of the alignment and will bring much-needed relief to the community, which has experienced problems with its current water sources. Upon delivery of GP’s renewable water supply to this community, the same pipeline will be re-used to deliver additional renewable water to other Front Range communities.

Investments in water treatment, storage, and transmission facilities which will allow the efficient movement of GP’s Lamar water to Front Range and eastern plains communities, providing them with a stable, cost-effective, and perpetual water supply. Additionally, jobs will be created in both Elbert and Prowers counties through the construction, on-going maintenance and operation of the system.

To implement these plans, GP is currently in discussions with several water Districts to provide them with an efficient solution to their water needs as quickly as possible. GP has also had preliminary consultations with relevant County and State authorities to ensure its project is responsive to local needs and provides a win-win for key stakeholders. GP plans to continue these efforts through immediate contact with all interested parties in the Arkansas Valley, eastern plains and along the Front Range.

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.