Tens of millions of more dollars have been freed up to help water providers start repairing systems that were damaged in last month’s historic flooding.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board this past week increased its available funds for low-interest loans to $40 million — an increase from the $15 million it had originally designated.
After announcing $15 million in loans available earlier this month, the CWCB within days received applications for about $12 million in loans from water providers.
CWCB officials had announced the initial $15 million in loans at the South Platte Roundtable meeting on Oct. 8, and at the time, said they were hoping to make available more dollars for loans, predicting a huge influx of requests.
This week they made that happen.
During last month’s flooding in northeast Colorado, nearly all agricultural irrigation ditches, reservoir companies and other water providers in the region experienced damage along their systems — ditches, dykes, gravel pits, canals, head gates and other diversion structures along the rivers that were washed out or destroyed and now need to be repaired, or even rebuilt.
More than a month later, many water providers are still assessing the widespread damage, but some water providers are reporting damages have added up into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions.
Officials with the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District in Greeley, Colo., have said their district alone has about $1 million in needed repairs.
State and local water officials have stressed that, with the loans, they’re wanting to free up dollars quickly, so water providers can get started on the repairs, which need to be done before next spring, when water providers will need to capture mountain snowmelt in their reservoirs, and then deliver water to farmers starting to grow crops.
In addition to increasing the amount of loan dollars available, the CWCB this week also approved the $12 in loan applications it had already received. Those loans were distributed to 10 irrigation and ditch companies for emergency repairs of diversion structures and ditch systems, and ranged in amount from $202,000 to the Boulder and Larimer County Irrigating and Manufacturing Ditch Company to $3.3 million for the Left Hand Ditch Company.
Other loans approved as part of the $12 million package included the Highland Ditch Company ($2 million), Rough and Ready Irrigating Ditch Company ($1.8 million), Oligarchy Irrigation Company ($1.3 million), Big Thompson and Platte River Ditch Company ($800,000), Ish Reservoir Company ($207,000), Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Company ($1.6 million), Church Ditch Water Authority ($606,000) and the North Poudre Irrigation Company ($482,000).
With its emergency loans, the CWCB is offering 30-year loans, which for three years will carry zero percent interest with no payments required. The following 27 years of the loan payments will include interest based on current rates.
The CWCB’s loans typically require a 10 percent down payment but that’s not required for the $40 million the CWCB recently freed up.
In addition to the $40 million in loans, Colorado water officials have put up another $1.8 million in grants to help water providers.
Officials with the CWCB — an organization created about 75 years ago to provide policy direction on water issues in the state — is providing $1.5 million of the $1.8 million in grants.
The South Platte and Denver Metro roundtables — each consisting of experts from those respective basins, who meet every other month, sometimes more frequently, to discuss water issues in the region — agreed at their meetings this month to each contribute another $150,000 to the grant pot, bringing the total in grant dollars available to $1.8 million.
The Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District in Berthoud, Colo., is serving as the “financial agent” for the grants.
Eric Wilkinson, general manger at Northern Water, explained at the meeting that the grants distributed wouldn’t exceed $25,000, although each water provider could receive up to five grants.
He further noted that, with $25,000 being the maximum, the grants would ideally go toward technical assistance, such as consulting with engineers and other experts, rather than going toward the actual construction work. ❖