Residents of the North Fork Water Conservancy District will have a ballot question to consider in this fall's election. To help understand the issue, the district issued the following:
After more than 50 years of operation, the Paonia Dam, the Fire Mountain Canal, and the LCWUA reservoirs are all in need of continuing maintenance, repair and modernization. In addition, other irrigation systems in the North Fork Valley have the same problems.
The North Fork Water Conservancy District (NFWCD) was established to develop the Paonia Reservoir and maintain our irrigation infrastructure. Over the years, the NFWCD has overseen the Paonia Project and helped numerous smaller ditch companies with their projects. The NFWCD faces two problems:
1) The NFWCD can only disperse funds from its special repayment mill levy to make the annual project repayment; and
2) because of TABOR limitations, the NFWCD is unable to accept funds from the State of Colorado which might be available for repairs and improvements to the system.
To overcome these problems, the NFWCD will have a measure on the November election ballot asking voters within the district to approve a change of use of the special repayment mill levy and to allow the NFWCD to accept funds from the state to be used for repairs and maintenance on the system.
The question reads:
"Without any increase in the district's property tax mill levy rate, shall the North Fork Water Conservancy District be authorized to collect, retain, and expend the full revenues derived from any and all lawful revenue sources generated in any previous or future year, as a voter-approved revenue change, without regard to any spending, revenue-raising, or other limitation contained within Article X, section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and without limiting in any year the amount of other revenues that may be collected and spent by the district?"
Approval of the ballot measure will not increase the district's property tax mill levy rate.
All water users in the district will benefit from approval of this measure. Approval will allow the district to more efficiently use its resources to improve the irrigation systems in the North Fork Valley.
The NFWCD was founded in 1941 by decree of the court for the purpose of developing, conserving and preserving the water resources of the North Fork Valley. In 1948 a special election was held which authorized the NFWCD to negotiate and engage contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) and irrigators of the valley for the construction of the Paonia Project.
The Paonia Project included plans to build the Paonia Reservoir, enlarge and extend the Fire Mountain Canal, and evaluate and improve reservoirs on the Leroux Creek drainage. Fire Mountain irrigators would receive a reliable supply of stored water to extend the irrigation season as well as an enlarged and improved canal delivery system. Leroux Creek irrigators would receive additional water from lower Rogers Mesa below the Fire Mountain Canal which would be traded to the newly formed Leroux Creek Water Users Association (LCWUA) for shares of Fire Mountain.
The Paonia Dam was completed in 1964 and the NFWCD became the contracting agent between the BOR, Fire Mountain, and the LCWUA. This project served to expand and make reliable the irrigation waters of a large area of the North Fork and continues to be the largest supplier of agricultural water in the North Fork Valley.
A small mill levy was established to fund the operation of the NFWCD and in 1972, the board approved an additional levy to help make the annual repayment to the BOR. As property valuations increased over the years, the special repayment mill levy generated more revenue than required for dam payments and could now be used to improve the system.
Questions are encouraged and can be directed to any NFWCD board member: Tom Alvey, president, 872-3911; Mark Smith, 872-219; Dave Whittlesey, 835-7600; Dixie Luke, 872-6265; Kevin Kropp, 527-3157; Steve Kossler, 527-4597; and Bill Houseweart, 872-3592.