Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority member Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District is trying to pull out of negotiations between the Super Ditch Company and the authority both physically and monetarily.
The Super Ditch Company is a project that would allow municipalities to lease water from farmers in exchange for money to compensate the farmer both for the water and for temporarily ceasing to grow crops. Water would come from ditches and canals in Pueblo, Bent, Otero, Crowley and Prowers counties and could include the High Line Canal, Rocky Ford Canal and Bessemer Ditch.
Woodmoor district manager Jessie Shaffer wrote a letter addressed to the authority suggesting the district stay out of the negotiations with the ditch due to a possible conflict with a recent filing for an exchange plan for water in the Lower Arkansas Valley. The letter was written under the direction of the water and sanitation district’s governing board, said assistant district manager Randy Gillette.
“They have given us direction that we don’t have to be involved with these negotiations,” Gillette said. “We do want to be a part of the Super Ditch concept […] but it’s always been stated, at least what I’ve heard, is that individual contracts are going to be the bottom line.”
In exchange for stepping away from the issue, the water purveyor also wanted to be excluded from the costs associated with the authority’s negotiations with the Super Ditch.
Gillette said either the authority could structure the cost of the work with the Super Ditch as a project, which would involve a charge to each member participating in the negotiations, or break up the dues it has paid and not put any of them toward the work.
Woodmoor’s proposal would increase the costs to the rest of the authority’s members, said Dana Duthie, general manager of Donala Water and Sanitation District.
“Woodmen Hills doesn’t need anything from the Super Ditch, but I’m not raising any issues about how my dues money is being spent,” said Larry Bishop, the district manager for the metropolitan district. “It just doesn’t make any sense, either we’re a group and we’re a team and we move forward to accomplish the goals of what the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is about […] but if we’re going to start splintering out, I’m not going to be so okay, I’m going to have some problems with how my dues money is now being spent because now we’re not a team anymore, we’re all individual entities going about our individual businesses.”
Woodmoor has paid its dues for the year, so what happens to the money is up to a vote of the majority of the board plus one member, said the authority’s attorney Rick Fendel.
Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth said none of the members of the authority should be excluded from the negotiations, as the Super Ditch Company is leaving Woodmoor out of the negotiations, and if the Super Ditch wants to negotiate with the member entities as an authority, they should allow Woodmoor to join the discussions.
“We all signed off on a [memorandum of understanding] a year-and-a-half or so ago, and we’re all in this together,” said board president Kip Petersen, Cherokee Metropolitan District general manager. He said the authority either needs to approach the negotiations as an organization or step back and evaluate what the organization is about.
Bishop said another option would be to vote Woodmoor out of the organization and it could continue to move forward as a water authority.
Gillette said Shaffer had been instructed by the Woodmoor board to meet with someone from the Super Ditch Company and had set up a meeting with member Jay Winner. He said Woodmoor is doing everything with the best interest of the group in mind.
Duthie made a motion for the authority to continue working with the Super Ditch as a group and not to accept Woodmoor’s position on dues, which was met with a 3-2 vote, with Duthie, Petersen and Bishop voting for it and it did not carry. The authority will wait to see how Shaffer’s meeting with Winner went before making any further decisions about the situation.