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Huerfano Water District gets look at draft 2018 budget

by Bill Knowles

HUERFANO — The Huerfano County Water Conservancy District took a look at the proposed 2018 budget during their regular meeting Monday evening. The $3.6M dollar general fund is the largest budget the district has ever had.

The largest source of anticipated revenue for 2018 is the $1 million sale of augmentation certificates as a result of the sale of 20 acre-feet at $50,000 per acre-foot. Another large source of income is the earnings from the east ranch. Along with the sale of the ranch itself, the anticipated income is expected to be about $1.018 million.

Operating reserves are listed at $556,216 for 2018 followed by $251,392 in revenue from the general property tax along with funds from a loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board listed at $249,134. Along with other sources of revenue the total is $3,056,939 and when added to $20,892 in emergency reserves and an operating reserve of $556,216 the total comes to $3,634,048 in anticipated revenue for 2018.

The largest expenditure listed is the repayment on the note for the ranch and augmentation certificate sales is listed at $1,813,758. This is followed by $341,466 in expenditures for reservoir construction that’s not covered by a grant or loan, with an expenditure of $249,134 in spending on reservoir construction from a loan. The expenditures for 2018 total $3,634,048.

The board of directors voted 5-0 to accept the budget for publication.

Talking about a current case that will be heard by the Colorado Water Court the board looked at an application for finding of reasonable diligence on enlargement of Fuchs Pond #6, Reservoir ditch, and Aragon Ditch in the Huerfano River Basin. And according to water commissioner Doug Brgoch, it’s all off of Martin Creek, which is virtually always nontributary to the Huerfano River.

“Whether they deserve any absolute ruling on some of these we’re not too sure, but they’re certainly not within the administrative system for the priority call,” Brgoch said.

The appropriation was made under a futile call. According to Denver Water, the public utility for the City of Denver, a futile call is defined as a situation in which a junior (more recent) priority is allowed to continue to divert (water) in spite of a downstream senior call when curtailing the junior would not produce any additional water for the senior.

The water district board decided not to get involved with the case and passed on it with a consensus, no vote was taken.

Reporting on the Cucharas River and the Huerfano River, Brgoch said both the Cucharas and the Huerfano are both “acting pretty much the same.” The Cucharas has 23 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the lower gage station and the Huerfano has 22 cfs at the Badito gage.

There are some water rights currently operating, but they aren’t taking on the water so a lot is passing to the Arkansas River and there’s no call at present on the upper reaches. About 20 cfs is passing through the Cucharas Reservoir and around 15 cfs is passing through the Huerfano as they converge on the Arkansas River.

The board went into executive session at 7 pm.