Former Otero County Commissioner Kevin Karney, representing the Southeast Water Conservancy District, on Monday urged the Otero County Commissioners to join as objectors to a water transfer plan currently in Colorado Water Court.

The plan involves the transfer of water from the Fort Lyon Ditch by Arkansas River Farms and the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association. Karney believes, along with 20-25 other formal objectors, that the deal to sell Fort Lyon Water upstream to Colorado Springs Municipal Utilities will turn Bent County into a dried-up community like Crowley County.

The commissioners did not vote on the request, saying attorney Mike Nichols had not informed them about the situation. The water transfer, Colorado Water Court #3036, has been delayed several times as the number of objectors continues to mount.

Manager Jay Winner of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District was contacted for comment after the commissioners' meeting.

“We’re in for the fight of our life,” said Winner. “This is the largest ditch in the state vs. the second-largest community in the state. El Paso County needs 50,000-70,000 acre feet of water and has no place to get it but Southern Colorado.”

An acre foot of water is the amount of water needed to cover one acre with a depth of 12 inches of water.

He further said Otero County needs to object  because the headgate to be used to divert the water is in Otero County.

“The public needs to know what is going on.”

He pointed out that the transfer of water would affect the water quality in the valley, which already is burdened with nitrates, phosphates and selenium and is the focus of several studies. One of those studies will be conducted by Engineer Mike Weber of the LAVWCD. Mike Weber presented the idea to the commissioners on Monday.

The grant proposed would help the cities by pollutant trading with the farmers. Installation of sprinklers and lining their ponds will result in pollutant credits, which by trading could help the cities comply with the stricter pollutant standards always being imposed.