The State Engineer filed the “Compact Rules Governing Improvements to Surface Water Irrigation Systems in the Arkansas River Basin in Colorado” on Sept. 30, 2009. These rules were established to prevent a violation of Article IV-D of the Arkansas River Compact as a result of the decreased return flows attributable to the use of irrigation systems, such as sprinklers and drip systems, or canal lining have the potential to decrease the amount of return flows that historically occurred prior to the improvement being installed.

These Rules went into effect on January 2011. They require the owner of a sprinkler, drip system, or other surface irrigation improvement to replace the historical return flows that their improvement depletes from the Arkansas River in matching amount, time and place. This can be done through an individual plan using a portion of their own fully-consumable surface water to make replacements (Rule 8 Plan) or through a plan allowed by the State Engineer to provide a more cost effective way for farmers to stay in compliance with the Rules.

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District was heavily involved during the creation of the Rules to ensure that they weren’t overly burdensome to farmers. Subsequently, the District was asked to create and manage the first Rule 10 Compact Compliance Plans on behalf of the farmers. The District agreed and has provided this group plan option (Rule 10 Plan) to farmers since the Rules went into effect.

If you plan to install a sprinkler, drip system or other irrigation improvement that will use surface water and it is located within the LAVWCD’s boundaries, please contact our office at (719) 254-5115 to join a Rule 10 Plan.