First permanent water sharing agreement with augmentation association in Colorado finalized
LAS ANIMAS, Colo. — The Fort Lyon Canal Company board approved to allow a Lower Arkansas Water Management Association member to deliver FLCC water for municipal purposes. The vote makes a permanent water sharing agreement between LAMWA and Colorado Springs Utilities complete. Water sharing can begin early next year.
“We are appreciative of the Fort Lyon Canal Company board’s approval of this use of the water. The approval helps us execute this agreement,” said Don Higbee, LAWMA general manager. “The agreement with Colorado Springs will benefit many farmers in the Lower Arkansas River Valley,” said Higbee. “We will gain a more reliable water supply that will increase crop yields for the average shareholder in both wet and dry years.”
Colorado Springs Utilities acquired about 2,000 acre feet of water from a LAMWA member, Arkansas River Farms in July. The agreement allows LAMWA members and Colorado Springs Utilities to take water deliveries alternately five out of 10 years.
Colorado Springs Utilities purchased 2,500 LAWMA shares for $8.75 million and also will reimburse LAWMA $1.75 million for 500 acre-feet of water storage. This storage will give LAWMA added flexibility to manage its water rights both in times of drought and excess.
“In this new era of water management, this is a win-win for our customers and farmers,” said Pat Wells, general manager, water resources, Colorado Springs Utilities. “The agreement will help LAWMA members better weather droughts and will help us enhance water storage improving water security for our community. By cooperating with agriculture, this agreement gives permanent water security to both parties.”
The next step in the process is to obtain a water court decree formally changing the shares to be used for municipal and augmentation use.