Attorney General announces water court order approving the State Engineer’s compact rules in Arkansas River Basin

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that Water Judge for the Division 2 Water Court in Pueblo Dennis Maes has approved new rules enacted by Colorado State Engineer Dick Wolfe that will allow the state to enforce and comply with the Arkansas River Compact.

“As water users in the Arkansas River basin know, the river’s water is in short supply. This ruling will allow Coloradans to improve the efficiency of surface water irrigation systems while also ensuring that Colorado can comply with its commitment to Kansas under the Arkansas River Compact,” Suthers said. “Protecting Colorado’s water and ensuring its obligations are met under the nine interstate water compacts and two federal water decrees is my office’s top responsibility. This ruling only bolsters our ability to protect Colorado’s water while meeting our downstream commitments.”

The ruling clears the way for improvements, such as replacing flood and furrow irrigation with sprinklers and drip-irrigation systems. Kansas officials had expressed concern for several years that increased crop consumption allowed by such improvements would materially deplete state-line flows in violation of the compact.

The judge’s order came after all 22 opposing parties withdrew their opposition following a three-year effort by the State Engineer’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General to take into consideration water users’ concerns and to directly address them. The process addressed the widespread opposition the draft rules received from farmers and ranchers affected by the rules after they were first circulated in late 2007.

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