Water district elects officers, hears report on Cottonwood water right

Historical consumptive use analysis by Colorado River Engineering shows the average annual amounts of water associated with the Upper Ark Water Conservancy District’s Cottonwood Irrigating Ditch water rights. After subtracting conveyance losses (seepage and evaporation) and return flows, the district should be left with 23.12 acre-feet of water that it can use for augmentation.

The June meeting of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors included the annual election of officers as well as reports about the district’s change of use case resulting from its agreement to replace water depletions for Ice Lake.

The directors voted unanimously to retain all officers from the previous year: Chairman Tim Canterbury of Fremont County, Vice Chairman Greg Felt of Chaffee County, Secretary Tom French of Fremont County and Treasurer Tom Goodwin of Fremont County.

From left, Tim Canterbury, Greg Felt, Tom French and Tom Goodwin were re-elected as officers of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors.

Following election of officers, Chairman Canterbury appointed all directors to the Water Activity Enterprise Committee as well as General Manager Terry Scanga and consultant Ken Baker.

Projects Manager Gracy Goodwin reported on the Ice Lake Project, indicating that Colorado River Engineering had completed the engineering report for the district’s change of use case for its Cottonwood Irrigating Ditch water rights (Case 19CW3089 in Division 2 Water Court).

Colorado River Engineering President Chris Manera summarized the engineering report that he submitted in support of the change of use case.

The district acquired the Cottonwood Irrigating Ditch water rights through an augmentation agreement with Lakeside Estates Preserve Homeowners Association near Buena Vista in January 2018.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Upper Ark District replaces water lost through evaporation from Ice Lake, preventing injury to more senior water rights and avoiding the need to drain the historic 30-acre lake, which is owned by the HOA.

The ditch diverts water from Cottonwood Creek 3.8 miles upstream from Buena Vista, Manera said, and the water acquired by the district was originally used to irrigate pasture and nursery stock on the Ludwig property.

The dotted line on the map shows the location of the Cottonwood Irrigating Ditch near Buena Vista. The Ludwig parcels, where the water acquired by the conservancy district was historically used for irrigation, are outlined in red.

Manera explained that the agreement transferred 68 percent of the ditch’s water rights to the district and calculated 23.12 acre-feet per year of historic consumptive use that the district will be able to use in its augmentation plans.

The district’s augmentation plans allow it to replace water used by its clients when their water rights are too junior to be in priority under Colorado’s prior appropriation system.

Attorney Kendall Burgemeister reported that he worked on a proposed ruling in the Cottonwood Irrigating Ditch case and expects to receive responses from opposers in the case within the next two months.

Joe Stone