Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question to see the answer.
What is an augmentation plan?
Colorado law allows for use of water according to the priority system. Whoever first puts water to beneficial use has a perpetual right to first use of the water. Colorado’s earliest water rights have seniority dates of the late 1850’s and early 1860’s. Most of Colorado’s river systems are over-appropriated, meaning there is no water left for new claimants except during periods of flood or peak runoff. For more information about Colorado’s system of water law, visit the State Engineer website.
Anyone wishing to drill a well and divert water must somehow incorporate the new use of water into the established priority system Most wells are hydraulically connected to the surface stream system and have the potential to diminish the flow of water in the stream over time. The most common means of incorporating wells into the priority system is the use of an augmentation plan. An augmentation plan is a proposal for replacing whatever water the well uses back into the stream system so that the existing water rights are not detrimentally affected. Most augmentation plans use a combination approach: purchasing existing water rights and assigning them to a new use; and/or developing a new water right (such as a reservoir capable of storing flood flows) and making the new water available to the stream system during times of shortage.
Augmentation plans are approved by one of seven Water Courts in Colorado. They are publicly noticed, and all water right owners have the opportunity to review and comment on the augmentation plan proposal. Most augmentation plans have requirements for continuing measuring, monitoring and reporting to ensure that senior water rights are never “injured” by the operation of augmentation plans.
What are the sources of water for the Pole Creek Meadows Augmentation Plan?
The PCM Augmentation Plan was approved in 1995. It was assigned Case Number 94 CW 223 in the District Court for Water Division 5 in Glenwood Springs.
The PCM Augmentation Plan has three sources of water:
The Hinds Ditch An old senior water right called the “Hinds Ditch” historically irrigated some pasture lands near Tabernash. This water right was purchased by the PCM developer and assigned to the PCM Augmentation Plan. The pasture land is no longer irrigated, and the old water right is simply left in the stream as a “credit” against which the PCM wells can draw from the stream system.
Augmentation Ponds Three small ponds are proposed to be located in the PCM subdivision. They fill with snowmelt during the spring runoff. Later in the summer, water is released from the ponds by the local water commissioner to offset the effects of well pumping.
Wolford Mountain Reservoir Finally, the PCM Homeowners Association owns a contract to use water stored in Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a brand new water storage reservoir in Grand County. The reservoir is administered by the Middle Park Water Conservancy District, headquartered in Fraser.
The Water Court determined that all three sources of water are necessary in order to preserve the stream system and protect the interests of senior water rights.
How is the PCM Augmentation Plan operated?
The Water Court ruling has many requirements for data collection and accounting for the augmentation plan. The PCM Homeowners Association formerly contracted with CWR Consulting, LLC to collect the required information and complete the accounting forms as mandated by the court decree. The PCM Water Committee now performs the water data collection task.
The court required that well owners submit readings of their well meters at least once a year. Homeowners must also report the type of septic system installed on the property, since evaporative-type systems cause more water to be depleted from the stream system. Finally, the court decree limits irrigation on PCM lots to no more than 1,000 square feet each.
PCM collects the meter reading information from the well owners each year, and processes the accounting forms mandated by the Water Court. PCM also coordinates the PCM water sources with the local water commissioner, who determines when and where the water sources should be released to maximize the total water supply available in the stream system.
Does the Augmentation Plan limit how much water PCM well owners can use?
Yes. Well owners can irrigate no more than 1,000 square feet of lawn/landscape area, and total water use is limited to approximately 118,000 gallons per year. The total water use limitation contemplated year-round residency and should not be burdensome or limiting to PCM residents.
The Homeowners Association itself has no policing obligation. Information on water use is collected and reported to State officials. Individual well owners exceeding their water usage limitations are individually responsible for well permit violations. The local water commissioner is empowered to stop illegal diversions of water.
What’s the difference between the Augmentation Plan and a well permit?
Well permits for the PCM development were not issued until the augmentation plan was approved, and each and every well permit explicitly references the augmentation plan. Issuance of the well permit ensures that wells are safely constructed by qualified contractors and are suitable for providing water for human consumption. The Homeowners Association is responsible for the Augmentation Plan, but individual well owners are responsible for complying with the terms of individual well permits. You should read your well permit carefully and comply with all its requirements.
What is the status of my well permit if the well was not drilled before the permit expiration date?
You will need to apply for a new well permit and pay the appropriate application fee ($60 in 2001). For questions about well permitting matter, contact the Division Engineer's Office in Glenwood Springs (970) 945-5665 and ask for Dwight Whitehead.
-->Important Information About When to Report Well Usage
State officials require that the PCM Augmentation Plan follow 'water year' accounting, rather than by calendar year. A 'water year' runs from November 1 through October 31 and coincides with irrigation and reservoir-filling customs in Colorado. This means that meter readings are collected in November and must be received by December 15.
Each year, your well meter report covers the period November 1, of the previous year through October 31, of the reporting year.
If there is additional information you would like to see on this page, please send an email to the PCMOA Water Committee and we'll try to post the information you need.