2:37pm

Thu July 12, 2012
Politics

Central Colorado Water Conservancy District Wants $60 Million Bond Initiative

The Central Colorado Water Conservancy District is looking for more water. But they need more money do do it.

The district, or CCWCD,  is exploring the possibility of asking voters to approve the $60 million bond measure this November to fund future water storage construction and acquisition of additional water rights. 

The district provides water for over 1,100 irrigation wells in Adams, Weld and Morgan counties and held a meeting in Evans Thursday to inform voters on the potential ballot measure.

Conservancy staff say the measure could help sustain the region's strong agricultural economy and would cost residents in the district roughly $1.26 a month per $100,000 of a home's market value for the next 25 years. That works out to around $15.48 per year. 

At times, the public meeting at the Evan’s Community center was heated.  Some in attendance were concerned about paying additional taxes without knowing what direct benefit they would see. 

One farmer says he had been pumping water for over 45 years before his pump was shut off by the state.

“We need to know before we vote what the allocation is going to be. We still haven’t been able to pump for six or seven years.”

Conservancy president Gary Harman says an answer to that question isn’t known. However, he did give a dire prediction if voters failed to approve the bond initiative.

“If we don’t build these structures, believe me the [larger] municipalities will. And we will lose the opportunity to capture all of this water. And this is strictly your decision. And the things we can do here is help keep that water here in our area, and use in our communities, and use in our farms, and keep businesses in small towns in businesses, like in main street Greeley we can help that.”

Jan Breuer of Greeley was swayed by Harman’s prediction. She says she’d vote for the bond because she wants to make sure as much of the water available to the district, stays in the district.

“Our towns are build on water rights, so what do you do? It’s a big question. But there’s only so much water, and where’s it going to go?”

The measure would allow the district to take part in the Chatfield Reservoir Reallocation project, which plans to raise the lake outside Denver by 12 feet. That could yield over 2,800 acre feet of water  for the Conservancy in about 3-5 years. It would also allocate funding to construct gravel pits to store over 8,000 acre feet of water, as well as the purchase of 1,000 acre feet of senior water rights near those pits.

President Harman hopes residents understand if nothing is done to secure additional water for the district, 200,000 acres of irrigated land in the district will dry up.

“I think we’re doing what we need to do. And it’s our charge is as a conservancy district. Hopefully people see the big picture, and the numbers we put up on the board,  as far as agriculture dry up and so forth.”

Randy Ray, executive director of the district, says 75% of residents polled approve of the bond request.  The 15 member conservancy board will decide on Aug. 21st  if they will place the measure on the November ballot.