U.S. Water News Online
THORNTON, Colo. -- The city is offering to sell or trade a
sizable portion of its municipal water rights in a deal that could be
worth as much as $125 million in money and water.
In return for the water rights, Thornton wants to obtain an equal
amount of water and use any additional money to upgrade an existing
``I think it's a good opportunity for an entity to pick up water,
and for Thornton to keep its water portfolio whole and get cash to
upgrade our system,'' said Mark Koleber, Thornton water-resources
Several metro cities and water districts are expected to make
bids. However, the sale could end up in court if Thornton doesn't
first offer the deal to Aurora, which leased the water until 1999 and
claims it has an agreement for the right to match any bids.
Aurora officials say Thornton is trying to skirt the agreement by
bundling the water with storage rights in Spinney Mountain Reservoir.
``It sounds like we lived up to our half, and they're not living
up to their half,'' Aurora City Councilman Ed Tauer said.
Aurora Mayor Paul Tauer and Thornton Mayor Noel Busck plan to meet
to discuss the issue.
The water comes from 11 ranches in South Park. Thornton officials
estimate the rights from the ranches would yield an average of 8,300
acre-feet per year, although Aurora believes that number is high.
Bids could range from $12,000 to $15,000 per acre-foot of water,
said Douglas Kemper, Aurora's acting utilities director. One
acre-foot is roughly enough for a family of five for a year.
As the water winds its way down from the mountains, it loses
quality. But a city such as Aurora could take the water from a higher
reservoir when its quality is still high, making it worth more to
another city, Koleber said.
Thornton would use the sale to obtain water rights elsewhere,
likely at a lower cost. The result would be a swap of water for the
city, with additional money left over for city coffers, Koleber said.
``We not only need this water, we're going to need a lot more
water. We will not end up with less water available to our system,''
he said. ``This whole package has to come together, or we will not
sell these water rights.''
In addition to the water, Thornton is offering storage space in
Spinney Mountain Reservoir to hold the water before bringing it to
the metro area.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.