The 2019 Annual Meeting of the Arkansas River Compact Administration was held on Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Otero Junior College Student Center. ARCA was created as a result of the 1948 agreement to settle previous litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court. The resulting Compact was signed by ratified by the legislatures of both Colorado and Kansas and approved by Congress in 1948.

The purpose of the Compact is to settle existing disputes and remove causes of future controversy between the states of Colorado and Kansas, concerning the waters of the Arkansas River and their control, conservation and utilization for irrigation and other beneficial purposes.

The equal division and apportionment between the states of Colorado and Kansas and the utilization as well as the benefits arising from the construction, operation and maintenance by the United States of John Martin Reservoir Project for water conservation purposes are the second part of the mission of ARCA.

James Rizzuto, Chairman, called the meeting to order. The reports of Rizzuto and Vice-Chair Rancy Hayzlett followed. Bob Kimbrough reported for the U.S. Geological Survey. The report of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers followed.

Despite low rainfall during the growing season, farmers in both Colorado and Kansas benefited from the plentiful snowpack of 2018-19. The spring flow at Pueblo Reservoir was the third highest since 1985, reported the Army Corps of Engineers. Below John Martin Reservoir, after the maintenance done in 2019, the flow was 129 percent of average. The flow at Lamar was 124 percent of average, at Granada, 103 percent of average, and in Kansas, 95 percent of average.

The Corps dredged the eastern part of John Martin during the summer months.
The Corps also redid the rip rap at Trinidad, stabilizing the lake there. John Martin is still in good condition, though old. It is still in great shape and few repairs were needed to the dam.

Again, the snowpack was such that Turquoise and Twin Lakes had above average, as did Pueblo Reservoir, at the end of the season in August.

Tony Anderson, National Weather Service, serving as hydrologist, used 17 forecast points Jan. - June in Colorado. The late snowfall was beneficial. February and March of 2020 will tell the tale. The last three months have been a little warm, with no clue to precipitation, but Feb., March and April may bring abundant snow. Anderson said there are no strong La Nina/El Nino indicators.

Steve Kastner, general manager of the Purgatoire Water Conservancy District, said the 200 percent snowpack was not drawn on till mid-July. They were not fully able to store the excess.

Jay Winner of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District reported on water quality studies in progress at McClave and other eastern Colorado sites. Thirty-seven projects are enrolled in the Rule 10 projects. Rule 10 is an engineering formula by which farmers must return their fair share of water to the Arkansas River. The US Department of Agriculture is contemplating testing non-point discharges, which would greatly affect agriculture, so the water quality data is vital. The pilot project establishing the baseline was done in 2016/17 at McClave.

Winner hopes the Arkansas Valley Conduit is fully funded to get clean drinking water to the Lower Arkansas Valley. Selenium occurs naturally in the soil and at this point cannot be successfully filtered out.

A water storage pilot program is underway. Many farmers have made a verbal commitment to do lateral lining. Pivot and walking sprinklers are recommended for improving water quality but many have not yet been implemented.

Distributed storage rather than mass reservoirs are recommended.

Lyndon Gill of Las Animas, chairman of the LAVWCD, said, “This conference is a good thing. Ever since the Arkansas/Colorado Compact, communication has been good. Now we have the clean water issue.”

Bill Tyner, Operations Secretary and Division Engineer of the Arkansas Basin found the various interests had better results when they agreed to talk together without attorneys in the room. The attorneys came in and put in the wording at the end, but the farmers and engineers came to the agreement on the Republican and Arkansas Valley issues. They will continue to work to solve water quality problems.

Pueblo Reservoir supplied 10,380 acre feet to pay back the deficit caused by the 2018 drought. Assistant Operations Secretary Kevin Salter recommended working through issues before they become big issues. Looking to the future, the same cooperation and relocation methods will work out.