Diagram of the new water rights for Aurora Water from the London Mine to Spinney Mountain Reservoir.
Aurora Water has finalized the purchase of water rights associated with the London Mine, located near Alma, in Park County. A total of 1,411 acre feet (af) of water has been acquired at price of $22,000 per af, with additional costs of $2 million for an option to acquire additional water rights as they are developed and $1 million for an easement. An acre foot of water is 325,851 gallons, enough water to serve 2.5 households on average.
The seller of the rights is MineWater Finance, LLC and No Name Investors, both Colorado companies. The total value of this initial purchase is $34 million. The sellers are confident that the source of the rights could ultimately result in additional water that Aurora has the exclusive option to purchase for $21,500 per acre foot.
The source of this water is from a basin that is recharged from snowmelt on London Mountain. A geologic fault contains the water underground and prevents it from discharging into South Mosquito Creek, a tributary of the South Platte River. This water is pumped from the basin to a water tunnel in the London Mine and from there, discharged into South Mosquito Creek, which is upstream of Aurora’s Spinney Mountain Reservoir. Since this water is not naturally connected to the streams, it is decreed under Colorado Water Law as non-tributary. This has special meaning as this water is fully reusable and can be recaptured utilizing Aurora’s Prairie Waters system, a potable reuse system.
Aurora Water has been a national leader in water efficiency, including an acclaimed Prairie Waters water reuse system, and a nationally recognized water conservation program. Water acquisition is still necessary to meet future demands.
“Looking for new water supplies in the arid west requires innovative thinking,” said Marshall Brown, director for Aurora Water. “This is a supply that historically has not been tapped by water providers, but the easier supplies are gone.”
The environmentally positive aspects of purchase have resulted in praise from organizations such as the Boulder-based Water Resource Advocates (WRA).
“New water supplies in Colorado are extremely limited and, at the same time, nearly 2,000 miles of streams in Colorado are polluted by mines,” Laura Belanger, water resources and environmental engineer with WRA stated. “We commend Aurora Water for taking a leadership role in finding this inventive and environmentally beneficial solution to meeting its customers’ water needs.”
Aurora Water completed substantial due diligence before this initial closing. Additional water rights under the option provision will be purchased as they are adjudicated and decreed through Colorado’s Water Courts.
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