Water projects are back on track

Money helps county move toward future master plan

Posted 7/19/14

Two Elbert County water projects are back on track following the July 15 approval of a grant by the Metro Basin Water Round Table.

The projects, a well-monitoring network and a follow-up water supply study, are the first step in the county's …

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Water projects are back on track

Money helps county move toward future master plan

Posted

Two Elbert County water projects are back on track following the July 15 approval of a grant by the Metro Basin Water Round Table.

The projects, a well-monitoring network and a follow-up water supply study, are the first step in the county's effort to develop a water master plan to address declining water levels in aquifers underlying Elbert County. The projects will identify current water levels and study the effect of water use on local water supplies.

According to Robert Rowland, District 1 county commissioner, the $52,000 grant brings the overall committed funding to 64 percent of the $377,000 needed for both projects, with the remaining $136,500 to come from the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The original funding plan called for a $46,000 contribution from each of the three water roundtables located within the borders of the Elbert County, a $6,000 contribution for a portion of the three-year well monitoring network and $40,000 each for the water supply study. Elbert County budgeted $10,000 for the study, and the U.S. Geological Survey and the water conservation board combined for $229,000 for well monitoring.

The South Platte Basin Roundtable approved $46,000 for both well monitoring and the follow-up study in June, but the Arkansas Basin, while acknowledging the merits of the project, declined to participate, stating that the project did not represent a vested interest to the Arkansas Basin.

Facing this setback, the Elbert County Water Advisory Committee approached the Metro Roundtable on July 9 to ask for $6,000 over the planned $46,000. The additional money approved by the Metro Roundtable makes up only a portion of the shortfall, but will allow well monitoring to begin as early as spring 2015.

“The sooner we get started on this the sooner we get working on a master plan,” said committee member Bob Ware, enthusiastic that the project would proceed.

The well monitoring network will be set up by the federal geological survey to measure water levels in 30 all-volunteer wells. The sensors measure the level of groundwater and do not meter the water pumped out of individual wells.

In 2005, the Colorado General Assembly passed the 21st Century Act, establishing nine water basin roundtables throughout the state. The roundtables are designed to encourage locally driven solutions for water use and to represent each of the state's eight major river basins and the Denver metropolitan area. The basins are responsible for assessing various water needs and projects.

Because counties' boundaries were created without regard for river basins, three of the nine basin roundtables established by the act fall within Elbert County — the Arkansas Basin in the southeast corner, the South Platte Basin encompassing two-thirds of the county, and the Metro Basin in the county's northwest corner.

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