Fort Lyon Canal Company shareholders, at their annual meeting Monday, voted in favor of giving the organization's board of directors the ability to purchase supplementary water as it becomes available.

In November, the board of directors approved an agreement between Arkansas River Farms, a member of the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, and the City of Colorado Springs that allows for water originally allocated for agricultural use in the Lower Ark to be used for municipal purposes.

The pact allows Colorado Springs to take water five out of ten years, which has some lower Arkansas Valley residents worried about the availability of water. This supplementary water contract, however, is not related to that agreement, according to FLCC President Dale Mauch.

"The supplemental water, we've been doing it for years," Mauch said.

"A lot of times on the spot market water becomes available," explained Mauch. "An interesting scenario last year was Aurora had some water for sale. But they had it in Pueblo Reservoir. They were worried about Pueblo Reservoir getting too full and spilling -- Aurora's water is the first to spill. So they're sitting there going, 'Hey, if they're going to spill this water, we'd be interested in getting it sold before it just goes on down the river and we get nothing for it.'"

Last year, the FLCC purchased around 8,000 feet of supplementary water from Aurora for only $10. If an entity wasn't worried about its water spilling from a reservoir, or if their storage right wasn't full, then those sort of deals wouldn't exist in the market at all, according to Mauch.

Sarah Dunn, an attorney with Balcomb and Green, addressed the Colorado Springs-LAWMA agreement during her report to shareholders Monday meeting.

"The farms that were originally dried out are either owned by Arkansas River Farms or  third party individual holdings," she said. "Arkansas River Farms has traded a number of shares to LAWMA. It is those trade shares -- Fort Lyon shares -- that they will use to supply the water to Colorado Springs. Colorado Springs doesn't own any Fort Lyon shares. They only own LAWMA shares."

Dunn stated that LAWMA has the right to satisfy Colorado Springs through other water rights if they are available but, at this point in time, it anticipates using the shares acquired from Fort Lyon.

"Water continues to get diverted through the headgate as historically has occurred," said Dunn. "It will go down either through an augmentation station or the recharge ponds. Once it's delivered to that augmentation station, that's when it becomes Colorado Springs's water."

Colorado Springs must exchange water from an augmentation station into one of its reservoirs in order to use the acquired water, Dunn said. Given that, Dunn stated that Colorado Springs planned to take water in early spring.

"My understanding is that Colorado Springs is interested in getting this water delivered in wet years following dry years so that they can replenish their storage," Dunn said.

cburney@ljtdmail.com