December 2014
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Trustee Questions Town's Water Leases

By Sandy Barnes
Berthoud Recorder

“The Town does have one of the most reliable water portfolios on the Front Range,” attorney Paul Zilas told the Town Board at the Tuesday, March 17 meeting when trustees reviewed Berthoud’s water supply and usage.

According to Zilas, who serves as water attorney for the Town, last year Berthoud had a net of 2,443 acre feet of water available for delivery, an amount that includes 1,664 acre feet of river water and 586 acre feet of Colorado Big Thompson water coming through the Town’s pipeline. One acre-foot of water equals approximately 326,000 gallons.

Given the average family water usage of approximately 0.3 acre-feet annually, the town has an abundance of the valuable resource. The total water treated at the Town plant last year was 325,480,000 gallons, Town Water Superintendent Ed Simpson reported.

To make use of its surplus water, the Town has leasing agreements with farms and the Handy Ditch Company in which the Town also has shares, according to Zilas’ report. A total of 26 acre-feet of the Town’s Colorado Big Thompson water went to the Little Thompson Water District to supply homes at Serenity Ridge, on County Road 46 and the wastewater treatment plant.

“The Town’s in great shape,” said Zilas. “We want to keep the lease program going.”

During the discussion on the Town’s water usage, Trustee Glen Buckingham took issue with the rate charged to Binder Farms, which is $34 an acre-foot for 260 acre feet of Colorado Big Thompson water. “We give it away to some people and bring others to the door and charge $12,000,” he said, while referring to developers’ fees.

“We ought to have a much clearer way to deal with the water,” Buckingham remarked.

“It’s a big policy decision for the Board,” replied Zilas.

Berthoud has a total raw water supply of 3,000 acre-feet, 22.5 percent of which is allocated to Handy Ditch through a lease agreement. Also the Town loses another 80 acre-feet through an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation and a decree requiring water replacement in streams.

Town water consultant Darell Zimbelman advised conserving the Town’s water supply for future usage. ‘We have a water supply in our area. It makes sense to use our water here,” he said.

Former Mayor Milan Karspeck also pointed to the intrinsic value of the Town water supply, which he said has vastly improved in the past several years with the installation of the pipeline.

“Probably a lot of people don’t realize how much work Milan put in to get the pipeline,” remarked Buckingham.

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