First Real Public Forum On Elbert and Hwy Water District Expansion
Results In Proponent Walk Off, Past Commissioner Recommending Slowdown
By William C. Thomas
Craig Curl, head of the Elbert County Enterprise Authority, (ECEA), speaking in favor of the proposed Elbert and Hwy 86 Water Authority, departed from the forum after a series of questions revealed his evasiveness. He was booed as he left.
The Forum, advertised as a "debate" and sponsored by the Elbert County Tea Party on Saturday, July 23, 2011 at ten in the new Elizabeth Library Building, was an attempt to disseminate the 3rd Amendment to the Elbert and Hwy 86 Water Authority plan to deliver water throughout the State from its 38 acre headquarters in Wild Pointe.
Approval of the Elbert and Hwy 86 Water Authority Amendment 3 will be considered by the Elbert BOCC at its Wednesday July 27th meeting in Kiowa at the County Building, which convenes at nine. This is a continuation of the hearing held on Wednesday, July 13th.
Asked to speak first for 15 minutes, Mr. Curl began with the founding of the ECEA by resolution of the BOCC in 2010 to "strengthen, expand, and sustain," existing businesses. From there, he launched into the pending paving of 4.2 miles of the Kiowa-Bennet Road. Then he pointed to ten businesses strengthened through the Small Business Association and five startups. Then he talked about the Governor's Bottom-up Program, the 134 wind turbines in Lincoln and Elbert Counties; solar and wind energy taxes; 50 new jobs.
Nowhere did he specifically tie his efforts to these enterprises or small businesses; identify the businesses or the jobs; their salaries or whether they were county residents.
Curl then said that Gas and Oil exploration on the Niobrara Formation began in Weld County in 2009, that there were going to be "a number" of wells drilled in Elbert County by the end of 2011; that there were 5 gas and oil exploration company land men working throughout Elbert County and $2 million had already been granted in leases for mineral rights.
To someone who'd just arrived in Elbert County, Curl's first 20 minutes might have been instructive; to the audience he had, however: residents of 3 years-3 generations; what he was saying was not only repetitive; its lack of connection to the ECEA or to the possibility of a new water district with statewide powers was mystifying and misinformed.
Finally, Curl got to the issue: the Highway 86 project will provide services "on a regional and statewide basis for water and sanitation; " then he told the audience about Elbert County's population, which, as of 2010, is at 23,086.
Approval of the water district, Curl declared, was necessary because it would help areas where insufficient water supply from the Upper Dawson Aquifer was a concern: Amanda Pines, for one. It would increase the water supply as well, for oil and gas developers, he asserted, by 1-3 million gallons of water.
The Elbert and Hwy 86 Water Authority would pipe water from the Arkansas River and create a windfall of $75 billion with 750 new jobs. It would completely eliminate the threat of the 100 year or less water supply from the Aquifer, Curl declared. Also, it would not cost the County "any additional cost." Its fees would be handled on a "case-by-case basis."
Saying there was "no conspiracy" among water pirates for this project, Curl explained that the new water authority has met the clean water supply act, the Kansas and Colorado Water Pact specifications, all environmental qualifications, and all state requirements: It's even endorsed by Kevin Rainey, Chief of Supply, Division of Water Resources.
"This is the future," Curl finished. "We need wealth."
Former Elbert County Commissioner John Dunn, who served from 1996-2000, was Mr. Curl's opponent. Mr. Dunn, who justified his years in office versus the administration that followed him with "Elbert County Budget 101: lectures in the fall of 2002,
5. The Water Authority could cost $700+ taxes per year for all county residents.

Dunn suggested that the Planning Commission review the Amendment, then the Commissioners turn the Water Authority to the voters to approve or disapprove. Great applause followed.
Curl, who was then asked specific questions by the audience, kept deferring to "the applicant," who was not represented on issues concerning voting, amount of water, fees, mill levies, and performance fees. He was finally frustrated in his answers by an audience member who noted that he had "not done his job," but had made way for temporary jobs by workers outside the state, especially in gas and oil.
The audience booed as Mr. Curl walked out.
It is likely that Mr. Curl has not faced such an audience. The Democrats were very receptive when he presented the same spiel, minus the oil and gas part or the water part, and probably every other audience he has before addressed has exhibited the same lack of backbone. In questioning, he admitted that he was a "contractor" with the County; though he did not admit where he'd gotten the contract or under what circumstances.
presented his point of view forcefully and briefly in eight minutes. He summed his concerns in five points:
1. There's no reservoir for the water obtained from the Arkansas;
2. The Water Authority is asking for a blank check from taxpayers for its activities;
3. Some of the aquifer water could be contaminated;
4. Activities concerning the Water Authority could immediately call the Wells-Fargo loan to the County of $7 million to call;
Mr. Dunn was cheered.