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.