U.S. Water News Online
AURORA, Colo. -- The federal Bureau of Reclamation has
approved a 12,600-acre-foot water lease between Aurora and 152
Arkansas Valley farmers, the largest temporary water transfer in
The $5.5 million agreement between Aurora and shareholders of the
High Line Canal water near Rocky Ford will allow the city to
partially refill its drought-depleted reservoirs.
``This deal won't get us out of water restrictions this summer,
but it will help,'' said Melissa Elliott, spokeswoman for the Aurora
Department of Utilities.
The deal was the result of revised state legislation, which allows
temporary water transfers, and months of negotiations between Aurora
and the High Line Canal farmers.
It will allow Aurora to get as much as 4.1 billion gallons of
water, about 8 percent of the city's total supply, while allowing
farmers to keep their water rights and earn some income in a dry year
when they could expect only limited success growing crops.
The Aurora water lease will take an average of about 40 percent of
the High Line farmers' crop land out of production this summer.
The final step in the deal was approval by the BLM, which operates
Pueblo Reservoir, where the water will be stored as part of the
The BLM found no significant environmental impact for the 12
months of the contract.
Elliott said the leased water will be used to replenish the city's
reservoirs, which fell to as low as 26 percent of capacity last year.
The reservoirs are at about 46 percent of capacity and city officials
are trying to get them back to at least 60 percent.
The cost of the lease will be paid by Aurora customers through a
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