Basalt secures Ruedi water |

Basalt secures Ruedi water

The Basalt Town Council invested in a “water rights insurance policy” last week by signing a contract to buy 500 acre-feet of water from Ruedi Reservoir annually for the next 25 years.

While the town government is uncertain it will need all the water, it had to purchase it now or lose it, according to water attorney Lee Leavenworth.

“I would note that a Ruedi Reservoir water contract for the future is, in essence, a water rights insurance policy,” Leavenworth wrote in a memo to the council. “If a proposed land use that required significant amounts of water was deemed desirable by the town, it would be in a position to facilitate that land use if it has extra water rights available.”

Buying the rights is also good insurance in case the town experiences problems with its wells, said Leavenworth, the town’s attorney on water issues.

If it turns out that the town’s demand never approaches the need for the Ruedi water, it is possible the town could recoup expenses by leasing its rights, according to Leavenworth.

He said it makes sense for the town to purchase as much water as it can afford under this contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. It is “an extremely good deal,” he said.

The rate is $23,579 annually. The Town Council decided on a payment option for 200 acre-feet up front and 300-acre feet on an annual payment plan.

A maximum of 500 acre-feet was available to the town. An acre-foot is the volume of water needed to cover one acre with water at one foot of depth. It is equal to 43,560 cubic feet.

Other governments from Aspen to Rifle also can commit to Ruedi water under the similar 25-year contracts.

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