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CO Agriculture Preservation Assoc. holds annual meeting in Burlington PDF Print E-mail
Written by Holyoke Enterprise   

Colorado Agriculture Preservation Association (CAPA) hosted their annual meeting Thursday, Feb. 3 at the Burlington Scout Center. Approximately 70 members of the public were present.

The meeting started off with a panel that included Colorado state engineer Dick Wolfe; Peter Ampe, first assistant attorney general; Alex Davis, assistant director for Water DNR; Mike Sullivan, deputy state engineer; Dave Keeler, Republican River Basin Water Commissioner; Dennis Coryell, president of the RRWCD; and Dave Robbins.

Davis provided a brief history of the ownership and leases that affect Bonny Reservoir and then went on to explain federal funding for projects across the state are tied to those leases.

She explained the state has been working to change the leases to assist the state of Colorado with compact compliance and that they had submitted a proposal to amend the contract.

They were recently notified their proposal was accepted. However, there is a public process that is required prior to the completion of the amendment. There will be a meeting March 7 to fulfill that requirement.

The state will be issuing notice of that meeting in the coming weeks. She also explained the Division of Wildlife and Division of Parks have formed a joint commission to create an action plan of how to manage the Bonny area after the amendment is complete. The area will still be available for public access. However, they are not sure what that will consist of yet.

They will also be required to have some water in the reservoir for flow-through purposes. Another concern that came up was the estimated 50,000 waterfowl that stop in the Bonny Reservoir during their migration each year. Davis then went on to say how much she appreciated the work the CAPA board has been doing on behalf of its members and said through the complex issues of compact compliance the board is thoughtful and sees the larger picture.

State engineer Wolfe informed the audience Colorado has been meeting with Kansas since October, trying to address their concerns with the pipeline. They are also working on modeling calculations for draining Bonny Reservoir. He said the state expects a trial and error period to decide what levels need to be maintained to make planned releases. They expect these trials to begin over the coming summer.

A member of the audience asked if the Compact Compliance Pipeline was of any benefit to the users in the South Fork area. Wolfe responded that all states must meet two tests to remain in compliance: the sub-basin test and the statewide test.

The pipeline will not assist the users other than in the north fork in the sub-basin test. However, in the statewide test it is critical. He went on to say with recently completed modeling, if Bonny Reservoir was drained and the Compact Compliance Pipeline was in operation the state expected to be in compliance for roughly 40 years.

After this Wolfe stressed the importance conservation will play in the future. He spoke about the edges of the aquifer beginning to dry out and the importance of access to water. Another question from the audience was about the inclusion of the actual metering/CCP data being used instead of the average that is currently used in the model. Wolfe responded that the state is working to verify that data is accurate and will be transitioning toward using the data in the model in the future.

He said this change must be accepted by the Compact Administration and it may take several years before it is fully approved.

Ampe spoke about the arbitration results and litigation pending in the Supreme Court. Through the arbitration, he said, Arbiter Pagel ruled that Kansas had to act in a reasonable fashion. However, Kansas was not unreasonable in rejecting Colorado’s pipeline proposal at the time. He reaffirmed Colorado has been working with Kansas to try to address their concerns to make the pipeline a reality.

He also spoke about the pending suit that may be heard before the Supreme Court that Kansas filed against Nebraska for financial reimbursement for not being in compliance for two years, a forced shutdown of wells within a three-mile perimeter of the rivers and to appoint a river master to control how water is used within the Nebraska Republican River Basin.

Ampe explained Kansas filed in October, and Colorado will not be participating. He also explained the process the Supreme Court goes through while deciding to hear a case.

Coryell said the pipeline is the only way to achieve compact compliance with the current accounting model. He said at the Dec. 16 meeting of the RRWCD that the board voted to proceed forward with the construction of the pipeline.

He said the process from finalizing easements to water flowing through the pipeline should take approximately 18 months.

RRWCD also spoke about the lease on the pipeline wells and reaffirmed it can be broken at any time but they anticipate this will be the last year the cropland associated with those circles will be irrigated.

CAPA lobbyist Tracee Bently spoke about the previous years activities at the Capitol, including CAPA’s involvement in passing Senate Bill 52, including CAPA-delivered petitions in favor of the bill with signatures in the hundreds and providing key testimony in committee to get the bill passed.

CAPA’s other major effort legislatively last year was assisting in protecting the Compact Compliance Pipeline loan funding from the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Bently said it is expected there will be efforts in the current legislative session to redistribute the funding, so the actions RRWCD took in December of last year are a positive step forward to ensure the funding is available for the pipeline construction.

In the business meeting of CAPA an election of board members was held. Jason Lichty, Robin Liming, Tony Mangus and Bethleen McCall were re-elected to serve a two-year term.