Aren’t they “just farmers”?
HUERFANO — The intent of Two Rivers’ activities becomes clearer with the passage of time.
Two Rivers has made proposals to the Town of Monument and Cherokee Metro District in El Paso County. According to an article in the Sept. 1 issue of Our Community News, the Monument town newspaper, Two Rivers is proposing that Monument “purchase rights to renewable water assets.”
The company is proposing the delivery of water from Two Rivers through a storage contract in Pueblo Reservoir with the Bureau of Reclamation and then a delivery contract with Colorado Springs Utilities for use of space in the Southern Delivery System from Pueblo Reservoir to the Colorado Springs area. A new pipeline would be needed to reach Monument.
Gary Barber, President of Two Rivers, proposed the Town of Monument “purchase shares of Two Rivers’ water supply system portfolio” and noted that “Two Rivers can provide financing through Wedbush Securities, Inc. … .” He said this would provide the town with the independent water ownership needed to participate in Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) Southern Delivery System (SDS). The CSU/SDS will store imported water primarily from western slope rivers and reservoirs.
Gary Barber then described the Two Rivers mutual ditch company model “that would transport excess water made available from the farms it owns by performing rotating farm field fallowing in the lower Arkansas River valley and selling/delivering the water that is temporarily not being used for field irrigation to Two Rivers shareholders.”
In brief, Monument could acquire independent water ownership by purchasing shares in the Two Rivers water supply system portfolio and then would be eligible to particpate in the CSU/SDS.
Certainly, it has taken and will continue to take many years and much effort to get the storage contracts, conveyance contracts, and land use approvals from Pueblo County, and environmental approval through the Bureau of Reclamation.
The cost and effort of amending all of these approvals for new participation in the Southern Delivery System will be substantial. Any new user would have to share the costs of all the prior permitting, the amendment, and the environmental commitments under the permit approvals.
Colorado Springs will be charging new users on the pipeline several thousand dollars per acre per year for just the use of the pipeline space, delivery and treatment. Plus the new user would have to pay for the water delivered through the pipeline, which is what Two Rivers is proposing to supply.
The Monument Town Board has been asked by the Mayor and Town Attorney to “seriously consider” the Two Rivers’ proposal.
If these proposals are accepted, Two Rivers will be able to use any preliminary commitments from Monument, Cherokee, or other towns to justify its requests in Water Court for the change of water rights and plans for augmentation. It gives the company the prospect of an end user of the water rights – so the complaint that its water plan is speculative (the court rejects cases if they are speculative in nature) would no longer be valid.
In short, if the proposals are accepted, the land Two Rivers has been farming for alfalfa in Huerfano County could be fallowed (not planted) and Huerfano County’s water could be leased to metropolitan users signing up for the agreement.