Compact Compliance Pipeline

Assisting Colorado in reaching compact compliance

What You Need to Know
About the Pipeline

Objectives of the Pipeline:

  • The Compact Compliance Pipeline (CCP) was built by the RRWCD to assist the State of Colorado in reaching Compact Compliance
  • The CCP receives 100% credit for all water augmented to the river
  • The pipeline successfully ensured the continuation of irrigation in the RRWCD basin

The RRWCD continues to run the pipeline during the off-season months and continues to strive in maintaining compact compliance and the continuation of irrigation in the Basin.

Why is the pipeline project needed?

The simple answer is that the pipeline project is needed to avoid having wells in the District shut down for compact compliance. Colorado continues to run the pipeline to help maintain compact compliance. For the fiveyear period 20032007, Colorados beneficial consumptive use exceeded its compact allocations by an average of about 10,000 acrefeet per year, although the amount has gone down recently due to the RRWCD Water Activity Enterprises lease of surface water rights in the North Fork drainage basin and the retirement of approximately 30,000 irrigated acres under the CREP and EQIP programs.

However, projections of stream depletions from past well pumping indicate that stream depletions – and the beneficial consumptive use charged to Colorado under the compact accounting as the result of such pumping will increase in the future. (This is sometimes called the legacyeffect of past pumping.) Therefore, if no pipeline is built, it is expected that Nebraska or Kansas will sue Colorado for an injunction to stop pumping in the basin until Colorado is in compliance with the Compact, which would take many decades according to current projections. The pipeline project is therefore needed to allow water users in the District to continue to use water without the risk of compact curtailment

Why is Colorado out of compact compliance?

In 1965, the Colorado Legislature passed the Colorado Ground Water Management Act, which allows the Ground Water Commission to determine designated ground water basins. In 1966, the Ground Water Commission established the Northern High Plains Designated Ground Water Basin (the NHP Basin), which included Ogallala Aquifer groundwater in the Republican River Basin in Colorado.

At that time and for many years thereafter, no one in Colorado thought that Ogallala Aquifer groundwater was included in the water supply allocated by the Compact. After the NHP Basin was established, several thousand permits to appropriate designated ground water in the Basin were issued and an economy developed relying on groundwater. In 2000, a U.S. Supreme Court Special Master ruled that consumption of groundwater had to be included in compact accounting to the extent that it depleted streamflow.

That ruling had the effect of significantly increasing the beneficial consumptive use charged to Colorado under the Compact. The States then entered into a Final Settlement Stipulation in which they agreed to develop a groundwater model to determine the streamflow depletions caused by well pumping. The good news is that consumption of groundwater has a very small impact on stream flows compared to the amount of groundwater pumped in the NHP Basin. However, the “legacy” effect of past pumping means that shutting down wells in the Basin will not get Colorado within its compact allocations for decades.

What is the pipeline project?

The pipeline project delivers groundwater pumped from wells located 8 to 15 miles north of Laird, Colorado, to the North Fork of the Republican River just above the streamflow gage at the ColoradoNebraska state line. The groundwater will be collected in a storage tank at the upper end of the pipeline, then will be delivered by gravity approximately 12.7 miles to an outfall at the river near the state line. The pipe diameter will be 42at the upper end of the pipeline, reducing to 30in the lower section of the pipeline near the river. The pipeline will be capable of delivering up to 25,000 acre feet of water per year

GEI Consultants, Inc., of Centennial, Colorado, prepared a feasibility study for the pipeline project with a $50,000 grant from the CWCB and did the engineering design for the project. The project engineering design, which cost $1.2 million and was paid for by the RRWCD Water Activity Enterprise, is complete. GEI assisted in the construction of the pipeline project.

How were the wells chosen for the pipeline?

The feasibility study determined that the North Fork of the Republican River was the best location for a pipeline project because the compact streamflow gage is located at the ColoradoNebraska state line. To minimize transit loss in the river, water delivered by the pipeline needs to be discharged as close as practical above a compact streamflow gage.

Once it was determined that the groundwater should be delivered to the North Fork, the study then focused on areas north and south of the river to determine where the Ogallala Aquifer has the greatest saturated thickness. Also, the wells for the project need to be located at a sufficient distance from the river so that any stream impacts from pumping are minimal.

After it was determined that the area with the greatest saturated thickness was north of the river and a minimum distance from the river was established, wells were identified to minimize pipeline construction costs. The wells under contract for the pipeline project range from 8 to 15 miles north of the river, which ensures a longterm water supply for the pipeline, and are located near the ColoradoNebraska state line, which minimizes pipeline construction costs

The groundwater rights for the pipeline plus easements for well sites, well connector pipelines, the storage tank, a maintenance storage yard, a building with controls for pipeline operations, and the main pipeline alignment for over half of the length of pipeline are under contract with a single landowner

Has the State of Colorado contributed anything to the pipeline project?

The CWCB provided a $50,000 grant to prepare a feasibility study for the pipeline project, and State officials assisted with the preparation of the feasibility study.

The CWCB and the Colorado State Legislature have approved a $60.6 million loan to the RRWCD WAE at the very low interest rate of 2% per year over a twenty year repayment term. This low interest CWCB loan reduced the cost of the pipeline project by approximately $30 million in interest, compared to a loan from a financial institution at a normal commercial interest rate

Pipeline Project Documents

View all documents related to the Pipeline Project

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