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Augmentation plan moves forward

by Carol Dunn

LA VETA- The fourth and final water lease has been signed, the flume is operational, and things seem to be moving forward for the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District on its Rule 14 and Substitute Water Supply Plans.  At its meeting on August 24, HCWCD’s Water Activity Enterprise Board learned that another party is already interested in being added to the Rule 14 Plan to cover a well supplying water to 12 homes.  Water attorney Steve Monson, partner in Felt, Monson & Culichia, is negotiating with the developer on behalf of the Enterprise.  “Well, we knew this was going to happen,” said Board member Erin Jerant, echoing previous comments that many well users will be coming forward to work with the Enterprise when they realize they are required by law to augment their water use.  The plans, filed earlier this year by the Enterprise, provide for required augmentation water to replace out-of-priority well water use in the Huerfano River basin.  The original participants in the two augmentation plans are Huerfano County, Gardner Water & Sanitation District, Malachite Spring and Paradise Acres Homeowners Association.  The Enterprise is leasing a water right from Sheep Mountain Ranch, essentially taking it out of production, and subleasing  it to the participants to satisfy their legal requirements to augment their water use.

    Board member Raymond Harriman pointed out that the process has been expensive, costing the Enterprise over $30,000 so far, most of it in attorney and engineering fees.  “If we’ve got to build that pond (for storage), that’s going to be an added expense,” he said.  “And we still have to purchase water.”  The original plan, formulated by the Water Conservancy District in February 2009, anticipated that the Enterprise would break even in five years, not including the cost of a storage reservoir.