The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors voted at its recent meeting to file an objection to the Security Water District’s court application for a change of water rights on Hayden Creek in Coaldale (Division 2, case 2016CW3055).
In discussing whether or not to get involved in the case, Upper Ark directors mentioned unresolved issues with Hill Ranch near Nathrop after the Pueblo West Metropolitan District purchased the ranch, changed the water right and dried up the land.
The directors’ discussion highlighted three main concerns:
- Ensuring that the amount of water claimed by Security is not excessive.
- Ensuring that Security administers the amount and timing of return flows so that other water rights are not injured by the change of use.
- Ensuring that the dried-up ranch land is properly revegetated.
Security acquired the 1894 agricultural water rights when it purchased a Coaldale ranch that, according to the filing, historically used the water to irrigate 195 acres.
The filing cites Security’s own study of consumptive water use on the ranch from 1912 through 2006 in asserting that historical water use “resulted in net stream depletions (consumptive use credits) of approximately 236 annual acre-feet.”
Security seeks to change the Hayden Creek water rights from an agricultural use in Coaldale to a municipal use in Security, allowing the water to flow into Pueblo Reservoir before diverting the proposed 236 acre-feet per year through the Fountain Valley Conduit.
The Security filing indicates that the water right may be used for continued irrigation on the ranch “to the extent not limited by municipal use of the depletion credits and dry-up requirements.”
In the filing Security commits to constructing a Coaldale augmentation station to measure and administer the Hayden Creek water rights. The filing also indicates Security “may construct a groundwater recharge facility” that “may be used … for recharge to the aquifer and later delivery of accretion credits back to the Arkansas River” (i.e., return flows).
This would help prevent injury to other water rights holders because the return flows would be delivered to the river in the same location as the historical return flows created by irrigating the ranch.
But the filing also indicates that Security may “replace return flow obligations to the Arkansas River” by means of “releases from Pueblo Reservoir,” which could injure other water rights between Coaldale and Pueblo Reservoir.
Since Security owns the Hayden Creek water rights, the Upper Ark district’s filing won’t prevent the change of use, but as an objector, the conservancy district will receive future filings in the case and will have the opportunity to negotiate stipulations to address concerns.