(Las Animas, CO) -- Time. More time is what the majority of a crowded Bent County courtroom wanted to consider amending an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Springs to share water.
Fifth generation farmer Curtis Tempel stood to speak on the agreement and said he knew this was coming but he's disappointed in the process. He said he felt that three hours wasn't long enough to talk about long term effects on property owners.
"It's Government overreach at its finest!" Tempel added.
Tempel explained that Bent County farmers are cash poor and land rich but he didn't feel that the money offered would be enough for perpetuity.
Another farmer, Burt Heckman took his turn at the microphone to speak. He said he's a share holder and a 4th generation farmer and stated he wants to see a better definition of how the money to the county would be spent. Heckman felt it was disheartening that the three year long negotiations did not include public meetings with share holders. He also urged a slow down of the process and a chance to better review what Colorado Springs Utilities and the county had agreed to in the IGA, (intergovernmental agreement)
Ryan Hemphill said looking to the future, the county should have the ability to lease water but it needs to be set up right because water might not be there for future wells, drinking water, water for general use by the people.
Farmer Derrick Heckman stepped up to say he feels it has been rushed and added that he understands it's been three years but it's been three years "behind closed doors."
Tired of living on insurance, McClave farmer Dave Reyher said his piece by stating that the drought has already made if difficult.
Water attorney David Hayes, special counsel to Bent County, explained that the county cannot prevent water from leaving but feels this IGA helps to mitigate the issue. Hayes said it's an innovative alternative to the traditional buy and dry.
The agreement provides economic mitigation to the county for the loss in taxes from the 3,1,25 acres that would be dried up. On page seven on the IGA it states the county would receive money from Colorado Springs Utilities to fund a position that would make up for the loss.
Here is the exact excerpt from the IGA:
Former Bent County commissioner and resident Bill Long has been assisting on the agreement.
"It is probably the most thoughtful agreement on water sharing in the west," he told the crowded room at Tuesday morning's meeting.
For now there will be changes drafted on the IGA to address some of the concerns voiced at the meeting. Colorado Springs Utilities will need to take the agreement to their city council and public works for approval.
A copy of the IGA is on the Bent County website at https://www.bentcounty.net/
If you'd like to read our original story on water sharing with Colorado Springs, you can find it here.