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Water Conservancy District ponders water storage

by Carol Dunn

HUERFANO- At its September 28 meeting, the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District discussed the need for water storage under the Blanket Augmentation Plan it will eventually be filing.  Attorney Steve Monson brought information to the Board about negotiations between Huerfano County and the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which plans to file for minimum in-stream flows on the Huerfano and Cucharas rivers and several other creeks in the watersheds.

    During certain parts of the year, particularly May through July, the proposed minimum stream flows exceed actual historical stream flows, information previously stated publicly by Water Commissioner Doug Brgoch, and recently confirmed through studies by Bikis Water Consultants.  CWCB has indicated to the County that it may be willing to postpone its filings in water court for a year so local entities can locate storage sites in the upper reaches of the watersheds and file for those storage rights.  In return, CWCB would expect that the proposed stream flows not be challenged.  But Board member Dawson Jordan disagreed, “They need to get closer to the consultant’s flow amounts.  Those are wide differences.”

    On the subject of filing for water storage rights, Monson told the Board, “If it could fit into the blanket augmentation plan, it could be good.”  He pointed out that the actual reservoir would not need to be built right away. “The filing that would take advantage of the extension they would make would be a conditional filing,” he said.  “It gets the foot in the door and leaves that opportunity for what we hope to be an eventual augmentation plan.”

    Board member Erin Jerant expressed her concern about the financial side of HCWCD becoming involved in filing for water storage.  She pointed out that the Water Activity Enterprise has all of its funds allocated for at least the next four years.  “It’s worrisome to me,” she said.  “We’re willing, but financially we are strapped in the Enterprise.”