State approves grant for Chaffee groundwater mapping

This groundwater contour map shows the extent of the Pinedale Aquifer between Johnson Village and Nathrop. The aquifer supplies water for Nestlé’s Arrowhead bottled spring water (map by S.S. Papadopulos & Associates).

Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board members learned Thursday that the Chaffee County groundwater study got a big boost from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

During the Upper Ark board’s monthly meeting, Project Manager Gracy Goodwin reported that the project received preliminary CWCB approval and will begin once the details of the grant award are finalized.

The new study will be the third in the Upper Arkansas Valley conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District.

The study became a priority after the Chaffee County Commissioners issued a 1041 permit requiring BlueTriton Brands* to provide $90,000 in initial funding for the groundwater study plus another $10,000 per year for nine years.

Goodwin also reported progress on the Trout Creek Park Alluvial Storage Project and indicated the Upper Ark District will be seeking additional funding in the form of a Drought Resiliency grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Upper Ark District General Manager Terry Scanga told board members that the Cottonwood Lake Special Use Permit was only awaiting a signature from the U.S. Forest Service to take effect.

The 5-year permit will allow the Upper Ark District to continue managing water stored in Cottonwood Lake while a proposed 25-year permit is negotiated.

The long-term permit will provide the assurances needed for the District to invest in rehabilitating the deteriorating dam to improve water management and increase storage capacity, which will directly benefit the Town of Buena Vista.

Senior Water Resources Manager Jord Gertson reported current storage levels for the Upper Ark District at 6,230.2 acre-feet after receiving a 2,000-acre-foot allocation of Fryingpan-Arkansas Project water imported from the West Slope.

In other news, the CWCB will hold its September meeting  at the SteamPlant on the 20th and 21st.

*Formerly Nestlé Waters North America.

Joe Stone