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Malachite Spring paid up

WALSENBURG — At the December 15 meeting of the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, board chair Sandy White announced that the Malachite Spring account is paid up. Malachite was billed $12,000 by HCWCD for augmentation water in 2014, but spring owner Kent Mace never was able to come up with more than $2,500 to pay on the invoice, with some of that contributed by users of the spring. Historical estimates were that up to 100 people used the spring for domestic water. Several months ago, HCWCD was informed by Amos Mace that the spring was shut off in June, so the district’s water engineering firm, TZA, calculated the water that was actually consumed and required to be augmented. That total worked out to be much less than the three acre-feet the spring was billed for, so a credit of $8,444 was due to Malachite, leaving a balance of $1,056. White told the board that an anonymous donor offered to pay off the balance due, leaving the account paid in full. Director Sandy White reported on the marijuana grow applications and said that there have been four applications so far. TZA Water Engineers is checking to see if the operations will be able to fit into the district’s augmentation plan, and White said TZA thinks water

accounting to provide water will be reasonably easy. White spoke on a proposed new contract with the Division of Water Resources to provide satellite water monitoring. He stated it costs HCWCD $200 a month to fund two satellite water monitoring stations, one on the Huerfano River at Badito and one on the Cucharas River along Valley Road. The board agreed to enter into that contract, but the district’s water attorney, Steve Monson, said he had some issues with it and offered to discuss the contract during an executive session toward the end of the meeting. Next, White told the board about a federal grant opportunity. At the Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, he and director Scott King learned about Bureau of Reclamation grants that might be appropriate to cover potential cost overruns in the construction of the Red Wing Augmentation Facility. Director Al Garcia agreed to help with this endeavor. “It looks like there’s only one grant available,” Garcia said. “There’s a lot to be done.” Garcia said the grant deadline is in January, 2015. King reported further on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable meeting, and said that they are actively discussing the draft state water plan. “That’s the ongoing thing. It has been submitted to the Governor,” he said. The roundtable updated water project requests for Huerfano County, adding Holita Reservoir and a project to develop a “futile call model” at the request of the division engineer. King said, “We submitted 22 to 23 projects last year.” Basin-wide collaborative storage is also being discussed. “Now we’re into the dickering over what will be done,” he added. King explained that discussions are ongoing about watershed health. “It may be good, it may be bad. We’ll see,” King said. He also reported that the forest service seems to be involved and has sat in on many Roundtable meetings. White reminded the public and board members that all of the roundtable meetings are open to the public. King reported that the Cucharas pre-fire watershed assessment is just about done, and the district is about ready to identify projects next year. During the guest comments portion of the meeting, Gail Terry, augmentation participant in the CO61 Water Association, said, “Another year has come and gone.” She enquired about the status of the water court case for the regional augmentation plan and asked the board how much longer they thought it would take. Attorney Monson replied, “I would hope that we could have it done in 2015. We’ve made significant progress with the state and hope we can resolve their concerns.” He also stated that he hopes to get a buy-in from objectors to the water court case and is still trying to identify what exactly their concerns are. White added that they originally had a dozen or so objectors, but are down to just a few. JoAnn Tomsic, a landowner in the area of Lascar Road, voiced her concerns about the well water situation involving the proposed marijuana grow operations in her area. She said that she and others in that area would like their wells to be protected from losses, and they needed feedback from the board on whether their concerns could be voiced “from here” or whether they have to look to hire professional help to speak on their behalf. She said that they would prefer to solve their problems “without the expense and burden of water lawyers or engineers.” White said the issue is really about well permits, whether they are domestic or commercial, and added, “We have nothing to do with the granting of well permits.” White told Tomsic, “I think your point is a rational one.” He recommended going to the state engineer’s office for further help and said, “The key is their well permit.” Director Kent Mace added, “the findings of a groundwater hydrologist will be needed.”