Elkhead Reservoir will receive study funds

Colorado Water Conservation Board executes contract with Colorado River Water Conservation District

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The Colorado Water Conservation Board has executed a $500,000 contract with the Colorado River Water Conservation District for a feasibility study on Elkhead Reservoir.

The funds will be used to complete a study that will provide engineering and cost information related to the proposed Elkhead Reservoir enlargement. Support project planning, environmental permitting compliance and institutional arrangements will also be covered by the contract.

"These are low-interest loans that are provided to water users so that they can do these studies on water sites throughout the state," said Mike Serlet, Colorado Water Conservation Board Chief of Water Supply Financing and Planning. "In most of the cases, I'd say about 90 percent of the projects that we loan the money for eventually are completed."

The funds are provided by the Colorado Water Conservation Fund, which originated in 1971 as a way for water users to obtain funding to pursue similar feasibility studies on water sites with the potential of expansion.

The money originally was part of the state's General Fund, however, the CWCF has grown into a self-sufficient revolving credit source, funding itself with interest and principal from the original fund.

As of June 2001, the fund had financed 299 locally-sponsored water projects, and had loaned more than $150 million to Colorado water users. The CWBC may also contribute up to 90 percent of the engineering and construction costs of a project, and up to 50 percent of the cost of the feasibility study.

Loan rates currently range between 2.75 percent for agricultural loans to 5.75 percent for commercial loans.

The CWCB is contracting with the Colorado River Water Projects Enterprise from Grand Junction, who is being represented by the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

The CRWCD has been active in the restoration of native fish species into the Yampa River, as well as all of the rivers included in the Colorado River Basin. The Colorado River Basin is made up of all of the waterways in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming that feed into Lake Powell in southern Utah.

"We have done a lot of work in Northwest Colorado," Serlet said. "We did the expansion at Wohlford Reservoir near Kremmling, and were also active in the construction of Stagecoach Reservoir. We feel that this project could be one of the best ones that we have done lately in that section of the state."

The Elkhead expansion is expected to take three to five years to complete, and would provide approximately 7,000 acre-feet of water from new and existing sources.

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