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This November, nearly 15,000 Weld County voters will decide whether to approve a $48.7 million bond issue put forward by the Groundwater Management Subdistrict of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District. Central’s boundaries extend throughout Weld, Adams, and Morgan counties, serving about 550 farmers who operate around 1,000 irrigation wells and irrigate about 57,000 acres. According to the district, people living in a $200,000 home would pay about $8.00 per year.
If the ballot measure is approved, the money will fund water supply projects for Central.
The largest project, the Robert W. Walker Recharge project in Wiggins, would use $10 million of the funding. The recharge project would divert water from the South Platte when flows are high to recharge ponds five miles away. This would provide more augmentation water for the district to offset wells pumping groundwater. Central relies on leasing reusable effluent from front range municipalities including Aurora Longmont and Thornton. However, city officials are becoming more reluctant to lease their extra water supplies into the future and Central has decided it is in the district’s interest to more of their own supplies.
Additional projects includes the construction of roughly 5,000 acre-feet of lined reservoir storage near Fort Lupton, Greeley and Kersey. The gravel pit storage would allow the district to divert water from the South Platte when water levels are high.
Central also plans to purchase senior water rights, including those currently being leased by the district. For some years, Central has been leasing senior water rights from individuals how have obtained water court approval for augmentation use. These transactions have option agreements that Central would be able to execute if the bond measure passes. Also, there are some willing sellers with development pressures, and Central wants to provide those sellers the opportunity to sell their senior water rights to a local water entity (Central) and keep that water in the district as opposed to selling to municipalities. This new supply would further allow augmentation water for irrigators to pump groundwater.
You can read the language of the ballot measure here.