The Pueblo West View

Ponds leak more than assumed

Study documents losses greater than state allows

Most ponds used by farmers to feed sprinkler systems are losing more than 20 percent of the water stored in them because of leakage.

A preliminary written report was released this week detailing the findings of the study, being conducted by Agritech Consulting and Valley Ag Consulting for the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

The study is being conducted in hopes of altering a state formula that assumes only 3 percent loss.

At a meeting earlier this month, the district reported that farmers in the study already are able to claim greater leakage, but officials held out little hope the assumptions of the state formula could be changed.

The study found 13 of the 22 ponds in the study had leakage rates higher than 20 percent. Measurements were taken as water flowed into ponds and as it ran through sprinklers.

Overall, seepage cost farmers 300 acre-feet of the 1,340 acre-feet that flowed into ponds. The state’s formula would have given them credit for just 40 acre-feet.

Gerald Knudsen of Agritech, who analyzed the results of the study, said drought may have been a factor in the data from the first year of the study.

The study will continue next year that will help researchers evaluate the relationship between seepage and physical or environmental conditions.

“This further review may be significant since the data collected to date represents drought conditions when there is a longer period of time between runs and more frequent use of the ponds may reduce the seepage rates,” the report stated.

The study is being funded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

The state uses pond leakage as one factor in its formula to evaluate consumptive use of surface irrigation improvements under 2010 rules designed to head off future disputes with Kansas. The Lower Ark district offers a group plan that helps farmers repay water the state says is owed to the river.

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