Roy Vaughan of the Bureau of Reclamation thinks the Colorado water supply is good overall and particularly so in the Pueblo Reservoir.
As of Nov. 12, 188,138 acre feet of water were stored in Pueblo, of which 141,594 a/f is water tied to the Fryingpan-Arkansas Water Project, the massive project that more than 50 years ago built Lake Pueblo; 41,475 a/f is excess capacity water; 16,142 a/f is winter water storage. There is room for more water — 103,779 a/f of project space in Pueblo; 5,287 a/f of project space in Twin and Turquoise Lakes.
An acre foot of water is the amount of water needed to cover an acre to a depth of 1 foot.
Vaughan said that the practice of water trading will continue. “It is done by contract, not by decree. We can time the release of the water. When we trade, we don’t move water.
“So there’s no shrinkage?” asked area water expert Leroy Mauch.
“That’s the advantage,” said Vaughan. “It will all play out through the CWCD (Colorado Water Conservancy District).”
He displayed graphs that indicate a better snow pack than average and also better than last year. Based on precipitation, however, the state is abnormally dry to moderate drought, while Southwest Colorado is in extreme drought.
Another subject covered was water quality. Elements in the Arkansas River water that officials seek to lessen are selenium, arsenic, manganese, uranium, iron, sulfate and high water temperature (which speeds development of e-coli). Methods used to control contaminants will be lining ponds and laterals, riparian buffer zones (unplanted land and bushes/trees between the fields and the river), reducing chemical fertilizers, getting rid of non-native growth along river (tamarisks and Russian Olive).
However, the tests so far, except for McClave, have been done in the Boulder area.
“A farm in Boulder is a house with a large lawn,” said LAVWCD Manager Jay Winner. “Come down here and we’ll show you real farms.”
Actually a group headed by Department of Agriculture Commissioner Kate Greenburg did come down and were impressed by real farms.
“We are working together on getting cleaner water for people,” said Winner. “The EPA wants it to be successful.”