Berthoud Weekly Surveyor | Covering all the angles in the Garden Spot

Berthoud water resources

June 21, 2019 | Local News

By Rudy Hemmann

The Surveyor

At the board meeting held the evening of June 11, 2019, Berthoud’s water attorney, Paul Zilis, gave a report to the trustees regarding the town’s position with respect to water resources, facilities, and current water dedication fees. He had given a very brief primer on the subject (which he referred to as Water 1.01) at a meeting last October. This presentation was quite a bit more detailed than the one in October and could easily be referred to as Water 2.50.

According to a document provided by Zilis, “The town is in a very good position with its current water portfolio and water facilities available to the town. It currently serves 3,601 water taps and will have the ability to serve an additional 2,934 Single Family Equivalents (“SFE’s”) based upon its existing water rights and facilities, for a total of 6,535 SFE’s, in addition to non-potable taps. That being said, the town needs to continue to pursue additional water resources and projects to maximize its current water supply.

(In a summary of) the town’s current water rights, an update to the town’s Raw Water Planning Model based upon recent acquisitions of water rights, the cost of water rights and facilities per SFE acquired by the town since it passed its water dedication ordinance in 2014, and an updated memo discussing the current water rights and facilities which the town is pursuing.

It is Staff’s recommendations that the Town continue to pursue the water rights and projects outlined in the attached memorandum. It is further recommended that the Board consider amending its current water dedication ordinance to accept ditch shares deliverable to Berthoud Reservoir for potable water based upon recent projects by the Town, which will allow it to treat ditch water for potable purposes.”

The town owns some of the most senior rights to water on the Big Thompson River. The town holds No.1 priority to 3.0 cfs (cubic feet per second) and 4.14 cfs river water rights.

The town also holds the following shares in Handy Ditch (36.83 shares), Ryan Gulch Reservoir Company (34 shares) and in Loveland Lake & Ditch Co. (76.16 shares) plus a stock certificate for an additional (1.12 shares) in Loveland Lake & Ditch, Welch Lateral Ditch Co. (32 shares), McIntyre Lateral Ditch Co. (3 shares), and Consolidated Home Supply Ditch and Reservoir Company (2 shares).

Additionally, 988 units of Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) and three Windy Gap Units are held by the town.

Regarding storage, which is necessary for the town to hold on to the water rights mentioned above; Berthoud Reservoir [approximately179 acre feet (AF)] of storage capacity and Welch Reservoir contract rights [86 inches (46.9 cfs or 92.9 AF)].

In a separate memorandum Zilis reported, “The Town is exploring alternatives, which include both water rights and water facilities to increase the amount of water available to the Town. As water rights become more scarce and expensive, it is also imperative for the Town to maximize its current water supply and it has several opportunities to do so at reasonable costs.”

For example, the following excerpt from the memo concerning Handy Ditch/Ryan Gulch Shares is of interest. This is only one of several methods Zilis is working with town staff to increase the value of the town’s water portfolio.

“The Town is always in the market for local ditch company shares. Under the Town’s current municipal ordinance, dedication of ditch shares to the Town, including Handy Ditch Company shares has been limited to non-potable purposes. This has been due to the quality of ditch water and the inability of the Town to efficiently treat it for potable purposes. However, with the rehabilitation of Berthoud Reservoir and the very recent addition of an activated carbon system, Handy Ditch water and other water deliverable to Berthoud Reservoir can now be treated for potable purposes. It is highly recommended that the Town amend its water dedication ordinance to accept ditch shares for potable purposes if they can be delivered to Berthoud Reservoir.

The cost of Handy Ditch shares has increased in recent years and a good planning figure may be $60,000 per share. The Town recognizes a yield of 4.4 AF per share in its existing water dedication ordinance. This translates to $13,636 per AF or $5,455 per SFE (Single Family Equivalent). Court costs would be in addition to the purchase price to utilize Handy Ditch shares for municipal use. The Town is also currently pursuing the change of Handy Ditch shares and Ryan Gulch shares dedicated to the Town for use at Heron Lakes. The water was dedicated for non-potable uses at Heron Lakes, and the Town is applying to use the water rights on the Heron Lakes properties and also to include it within its municipal water portfolio.

Because the water was dedicated, and the developers are paying the cost of WaterCourt, the cost per SFE is not applicable.”

The trustees stated their wish to gain a greater depth of knowledge of water issues and suggested Zilis lead a study session on the subject in the near future. No date for the study session was set.

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