October 23, 2010--Lower Ark not happy with seep ditch policy (Pueblo Chieftain)

The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District board has lingering concerns about whether seep ditches should be curtailed by the state engineer, following a meeting last month. “It has been OK for 100 years. It does not seem right. It does not seem fair,” said Lynden Gill, a Lower Ark board member and Bent County commissioner, at the Lower Ark’s monthly meeting Wednesday. “In my mind, it brings up a lot of questions and concerns about how the state engineer has approached this.” State Engineer Dick Wolfe met with farmers and Lower Ark officials about the enforcement of seep ditch rules in September. Prowers County commissioners asked the state to reconsider the action, which reduces irrigation on 6,500 acres. Seep ditches intercept return flows — water that drains from other fields — and have water rights that are generally junior to the major ditches. Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte said he is enforcing the rights to bring them into compliance with the priority system. The owners of the seep ditch rights argue that they have used them — for more than a century in some cases — without complaints from downstream senior water rights holders.

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