Carbondale, Garfield County sign up for Ruedi water
CARBONDALE – Two local governments recently joined the list of area water interests lining up for what’s likely to be the last round of Ruedi Reservoir water to be sold.
The Carbondale Board of Trustees last week agreed to issue a statement to the Colorado River Water Conservation District requesting an additional 250 acre-feet of water from Ruedi.
That would be in addition to the 250 acre-feet of Ruedi water the town currently uses to supplement its municipal water supply.
Likewise, Garfield County commissioners on Monday voted to send a letter of intent to secure 1,000 acre-feet of water from Ruedi.
Most of the 102,000 acre-feet of water in Ruedi Reservoir, above Basalt on the Fryingpan River, already is allocated for various uses, stretching from the upper Roaring Fork Valley to Grand Junction.
However, approximately 19,500 acre-feet remain unallocated, Carbondale Town Attorney Mark Hamilton explained in a memo to the Carbondale board.
Several large water interests, including the Ute Water Conservancy District in Grand Junction and two energy companies, Exxon and Encana, have asked for between 4,500 and 10,000 acre-feet each, according to Hamilton’s memo.
That means there are more requests than there is water available, he said.
“The river district is trying to make sure that local municipal water providers have what they need first,” Hamilton said.
Carbondale’s domestic water supply is adequate to meet the town’s needs into the foreseeable future, he said.
But this is likely to be a “one-time, final opportunity” to buy Ruedi water, Hamilton said. And, at $1,300 per acre-foot, the cost is a lot less than the town would pay in the future to obtain water from another source, he said.
“I agree that we need to think long-term on this,” Trustee Allyn Harvey said. “Once that water is gone, it’s really hard to get.”
Although Garfield County does not operate any domestic water systems itself, Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said it’s prudent for the county to take advantage of the Ruedi offer.
“It does help protect our municipalities,” Jankovsky said. “As their water systems become more stressed, this offers some protection for the future of these municipalities.”
Added Commissioner John Martin, “If nothing else, it keeps it from being diverted to the Eastern Slope.”
The Ruedi requests are non-binding and are subject to a formal environmental assessment by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which administers Ruedi water.
Entities expressing an interest in obtaining more Ruedi water will have to share in the legal and engineering expenses associated with that assessment, Hamilton noted in his memo.
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