Conservation Programs

RRWCD Quarterly Board Meeting

RRWCD Quarterly Board Meeting

Republican River Water Conservation District

 Board meeting – February 20, 2024

offered virtually and in person

Burlington Community Center, 340 S 14th St, Burlington, CO 80807

Proposed Agenda

(Times are Approximate)

  1. 10:00 AM – Welcome – Rod Lenz – President of the Board
    1. Pledge of Allegiance & Prayer
    2. Roll call of Directors/declare a quorum – Kristen Schneider, Secretary of the Board 
    3. Introduction of guests
    4. Approve the agenda
    5. Approve the minutes
      1. November 21, 2023 – quarterly Board meeting
      2. December 5, 2023 – special Board meeting
      3. January 3 & 4, 2024 – special Board meeting
      4. January 3, 2024 – special board meeting – executive session 
      5. January 4, 2024 – special board meeting – executive session 
      6. February 12, 2024 – special Board meeting
  1. 10:05 AM – Administration Reports 
    1. President’s Report – Rod Lenz, Board President
    2. General Manager’s Report – Deb Daniel, General Manager
    3. Financial Report – Reon McBride, Finance/Office Manager
      1. Mileage reimbursement rate for 2024
    4. SFFZ Acre Update – Payton Liming, Administrative Assistant
    5. CCP Operation Report – Tracy Travis, CCP Operator
  1. 10:30 AM – RRWCD Committee Reports
    1. Budget Committee – Aaron Sprague, chairperson
    2. Conservation Committee – Steve Kramer, chairperson
    3. Fee Evaluation Committee – Kevin Penny, chairperson
    4. Innovation/Technology Committee – Steven Meakins, chairperson
    5. Legislative Committee – Wil Bledsoe, chairperson
    6. Negotiation Committee – Roger Seedorf, chairperson
    7. Nominating Committee – Steven Meakins, chairperson
    8. Personnel Committee – Brooke Campbell, chairperson
    9. PTAC Committee – Tim Pautler, chairperson
  1. 11:00 AM – Presentation
    1. Report on status of Republican River Basin Economic Study

    i. CSU Prof. Jordan Suter, CSU Prof. Dale Manning & John Tracy, CO Water Center

  1. 11:30 – Associated Organizations Reports
    1. Colorado Groundwater Commission –Tim Pautler
    2. Colorado Water Congress – Greg Larson 
    3. South Fork Republican Restoration Coalition – Stuart Dykstra
    4. South Platte Basin Roundtable – Deb Daniel
    5. Yuma County Water Authority –  Mike Leerar
    6. Yuma County Weed Control – Roger Seedorf

12:00 PM LUNCH – provided for everyone in attendance

  1. 1:00 PM – Public Comment
  1. 1:15 PM – Legislative reports
    1. State Legislators attending meeting in person or virtually are invited to give comments
    2. Federal Legislative representatives:
      1. James Thompson – Senator Bennet
      2. Sally Boccella – Senator Hickenlooper
      3. Darlene Carpio – Congressman Buck
  1. 1:40 PM – Report from Acting State Engineer, Tracy Kosloff 
    1. Report by Chris Kucera, Republican River Team Lead Commissioner 
  1. 2:00 PM – Professional Reports
    1. Lobbyist Reports
      1. Federal Lobbyists – Denise Bode/Patrick Firth, Constitution Partners, LLC
      2. State Lobbyists – Landon Gates/Brock Herzberg, Capitol Focus, LLC
    2. Engineer’s Report – Randy Hendrix, water engineer, Hendrix Wai Engineering LLC  
    3. Attorney’s Report – David Robbins/Pete Ampe, legal counsel, Hill and Robbins P.C.
  1. 2:30 PM – Presentations (continued)
    1. Yuma County Conservation District grazing project in Bonny dam
      1. Tanya Fell,YCCD  
    2. Report on Compact Compliance Pipeline Extension Proposal
      1. Tim Pautler, PTAC Chairman, Randy Hendrix, water engineer, Bill Hahn/Dennis McGrane – GEI Engineering
    3. Presentation on Conservation Easements
      1. Sarah Parmar, CO Open Lands, Director of Conservation
  1. 3:30 PM – Board Discussion & Action Items
    1. Vote on updating RRWCD mileage rate
      1.  Reon McBride, Office and Finance Manager
    2. Discuss and vote on trip to Washington DC
      1. Wil Bledsoe, Legislative chairperson
    3. Receive report on recent meeting with the Sandhills GWMD
      1. Steve Kramer, Aaron Sprague and Kristen Schneider, Executive Committee
    4. Review and vote on Third Amendment to Purchase and Sale Agreement
      1. Tim Pautler, PTAC chairman and David Robbins, RRWCD Legal Counsel
    5. Review and vote on Pipeline Expansion Proposal
      1. Tim Pautler, PTAC chairman and Randy Hendrix, RRWCD Water Engineer
    6. Discuss and review Guidelines for Board members
      1. Rod Lenz, Board President, and David Robbins, Legal Counsel
  1. 4:00 PM – Old Business
  1. 4:05 PM – New Business
  2. 4:10 PM – Executive session to receive legal advice on legal questions and litigation concerning South Fork water rights; to discuss and determine positions, develop strategies, and instruct negotiators concerning the purchase or lease of water rights; determine positions and instruct negotiators concerning water supply acquisition, receive legal advice on legal questions related to such agreements, contracts and easements, discuss program applications; Compact Compliance and discussions with Kansas (to the extent subject to privilege), and the Compact Compliance Pipeline and Bonny Reservoir, and to discuss personnel matters

4:30 PM – Adjourn meeting

    RRWCD Special Virtual Board Meeting

    Special Board meeting – February 12, 2024

    offered virtually and in person

    410 Main Street, Suite 8, Wray, CO  80758

    Proposed Agenda

    (Times are Approximate)

    2:00 PM – Welcome – Rod Lenz – President of the Board

    1. Pledge of Allegiance & Prayer
    2. Roll call of Directors/declare a quorum – Kristen Schneider, Secretary of the Board 
    3. Introduction of guests
    4. Approve the agenda

    2:10 PM – Approval of Irrigated Property Lease

    1. Recommendation to Board – Steve Kramer – Vice President
      1. Discuss and vote on lease bids

    2:30 PM – RAMP Applications

    1. Review RAMP blind evaluation – Payton Liming, Administrative Assistant
      1. Discuss and vote on RAMP applications

    2:45 PM – Professional rates

    1. Review 2024 accounting rate – Rod Lenz, Board President
      1. Discuss and vote on 2024 accounting rate

    3:00 PM – Executive session to receive legal advice on legal questions and litigation concerning South Fork water rights; to discuss and determine positions, develop strategies, and instruct negotiators concerning the purchase or lease of water rights; determine positions and instruct negotiators concerning water supply acquisition, receive legal advice on legal questions related to such agreements, contracts and easements, discuss program applications; Compact Compliance and discussions with Kansas (to the extent subject to privilege), and the Compact Compliance Pipeline and Bonny Reservoir, and to discuss personnel matters

    3:30 PM – Adjourn meeting

    RRWCD Quarterly Board Meeting

    Senator Bennet’s CREP Improvement Act Summary

    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO.) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS)

    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), leverages federal and non-federal funds to target specific state, regional, or nationally significant conservation concerns. Traditionally, it has provided farmers and ranchers with payments to remove land from production in order to address specific conservation concerns. Each CREP is unique, and in drought-prone regions in Colorado, Kansas, and across the West and the Great Plains, CREP is used primarily to voluntarily reduce water consumption on farmland.


    However, the CREP program has not always worked as intended, and producers have sought more flexibility to achieve CREP goals while allowing for alternative water conservation practices and fairer compensation for enrollment in the program. The 2018 Farm Bill included a provision to allow dryland farming on retired irrigated acres in CREP. Unfortunately, USDA still has not implemented this provision, and payments on these acres are insufficient to encourage participation in key regions where water conservation is a top concern.


    For example, Colorado’s Republican River CREP is a partnership between USDA, the Republican River Water Conservancy District, and the State of Colorado to reduce irrigation water use of the Ogallala Aquifer, a critical water source for the Great Plains, and to help Colorado satisfy its commitments under the Republican River Compact, a water allocation agreement between Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska that has been in place since 1943. In recent years, the Republican River CREP has faced challenges enrolling enough producers in the program to meet CREP’s objectives. Producers are hesitant to permanently retire their water rights and take their land out of production as a result of lower payment rates in certain areas of the Republican River Water Conservation District.


    Other CREPs have faced similar challenges with the program’s lack of flexibility. In Southern Colorado, 40 percent of the farmland grows alfalfa, but is ineligible for enrollment into the CREP overseen by the Rio Grande Water Conservation District because a producer must show a historical rotational cropping pattern. This inflexibility hinders the ability of the Rio Grande CREP to achieve their water conservation goals using the program.
    Additionally, the CRP program’s $50,000 annual cap on payments to producers often restricts participation by producers with multiple fields in production, further limiting the success of water conservation CREPs.

    Specifically, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act would improve the CREP program by:
    ● Explicitly directing USDA to allow dryland agricultural uses on CREP acreage where appropriate;
    ● Specifically adding dryland crop production and grazing to the list of appropriate conservation practices for the CREP program;
    ● Allowing continuous cropping systems, like alfalfa, to be eligible for drought and water conservation CREP agreements;
    ● Ensuring fairer payments to producers by stipulating that annual payments for drought and water conservation CREP agreements will be equal to the difference between the irrigated acre payment rates and the dryland acre payment rates, as determined by USDA. And ensuring that any drought and water conservation agreement that includes the permanent retirement of a water right receives the full irrigated acre payment rate;
    ● Making the payment formula retroactive for existing drought and water conservation agreements;
    ● Letting producers choose their payment allocations under the program, instead of a fixed payment per year for the 10-15 year contract period; and
    ● Waiving CREP payments from the $50,000 annual payment limitation under the Conservation Reserve Program.
    The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Improvement Act will provide the flexibility farmers and ranchers need to conserve water on working lands under CREP, while providing them with fair compensation for retiring their water rights or limiting their water use.

    (Text from press release from Sen. Bennet’s office.)

    If you would like to view the Act, please click the following link: A BILL To amend the Food Security Act of 1985 to modify the conservation reserve enhancement program.

    RRWCD FEE INCREASED TO $30 PER IRRIGATED ACRE

    RRWCD FEE INCREASED TO $30 PER IRRIGATED ACRE

    The county assessors and treasurers are working on the 2023 tax rolls for their counties.  The tax roll includes an assessment on irrigated acres from the Republican River Water Conservation District (RRWCD). 

    The RRWCD assessments fund the district’s ongoing Compact Compliance efforts.  In the past, the assessment was $14.50 per irrigated acre.   Acres irrigated in the 2022 calendar year will be assessed $30 per acre on the upcoming tax roll.

    In 2016, the Republican River Compact Administration (RRCA), consisting of the State Engineers from Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, approved a Resolution which allowed Colorado 100 percent credit for the water delivered by the Compact Compliance Pipeline. 

    In exchange for the 100 percent credit, Colorado agreed to retire 25,000 irrigated acres in the South Fork Focus Zone (SFFZ), located in parts of Kit Carson and Yuma counties, by the end of 2029. Colorado must have 10,000 irrigated acres permanently retired in this area by the end of 2024 and the remaining 15,000 acres retired from irrigation by December 31, 2029.

    Colorado State Engineer, Kevin Rein, previously stated that if Colorado does not retire the acres by the deadlines stipulated in the 2016 RRCA Resolution, he will shut down all large capacity wells in the Republican River Basin. This includes all irrigation, municipal and large commercial wells.

    Throughout 2021, the RRWCD held over 30 public meetings all over the basin to discuss increasing the water use fee to offset the additional expense of retiring acres in the South Fork Focus Zone. 

    During the November 2021 quarterly Board meeting the RRWCD held a public hearing on increasing the RRWCD Water Use Fee Assessment from $14.50 per irrigated acre to $30 per irrigated acre.  The board voted unanimously to approve increasing the annual fee with the stipulation the fee would “sunset” (return to $14.50) at the end of 2029.  The board deemed it crucial to have a dependable source of funding in place to meet the retirement of acres required to meet the 2024 and 2029 deadlines. 

    Landowners who own irrigated land throughout the basin are eligible to enter conservation program contracts.  Every week producers in the basin meet with the RRWCD staff to discuss the voluntary, permanent retirement of irrigated acres in the basin for new and current conservation programs. Working with well owners and local Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offices, the RRWCD has retired 6,278 irrigated acres in the SFFZ.

    For more information contact the RRWCD district office, 970-332-3552 or call Deb Daniel, RRWCD General Manager, at 970-630-3525.

    RRWCD Quarterly Board Meeting

    Public Notice

    Regarding a Potential for a Future Per Acre-Foot Fee that Could Include 2022 Water Use