Eleven Thoughts about the July 27th Elbert BOCC Meeting
Over the past few years, I have purposefully chosen to stay out of the Elbert "limelight." From 2005 until early 2009, I was a permanent fixture at most public events in Elbert County. I was more than willing to try and bring about public debates regarding the state of the county, its financial demise, its lack of fiduciary responsibility, its shady bookkeeping and its lack of transparency. I wrote a newspaper column about pertinent county issues and fought side-by-side with my neighbors to stop the Super Slab.
In 2008, I was encouraged by friends to run for Elbert County Commissioner in District 3. While I knew that a Democrat stood almost no chance of winning a political race, I falsely believed that the Democratic candidates could bring important issues to light through debating their Republican counterparts. Patty Sward and I researched the future of water resources in Elbert County. We both fervently believed that a situation exactly like the one that is occurring today around the Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metropolitan District (E&86CMD) was eminent. We even interviewed Gary Atkin, the manager of Arapahoe County Water & Wastewater Authority (ACCWA) to try and ferret out details of inappropriate meetings between members of the Elbert County BOCC, developers and ACWWA.
Unfortunately, the Republican candidates refused to debate Patty or me. Republican dominance exerted itself, and too few residents seemed to care about water issues, ill-conceived loans on the Justice Center, or questionable bookkeeping practices on the part of the Elbert BOCC. There is no joy in prognosticating that the county you love is going to the dogs and then watching it come true. This is especially true when it is virtually the same cast of characters heading us in that direction who were instrumental in taking us nearly to the brink of financial insolvency.
So in the same disgruntled spirit exemplified by the members of our BOCC toward a concerned public on Wednesday, let me share with you a few details that chap my ample behind about Elbert County government and the way it deals with these types of issues. And, along the way I will throw in a couple of tidbits about our water district representatives.
John Shipper was once a regional vice-president and lobbyist for The Tobacco Institute, Inc. which was a United States tobacco industry trade group, founded in 1958 by the American tobacco industry. The Organization was dissolved in 1998 as part of the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Arguably, Mr. Shipper was one of the most powerful men influencing Congress back in the day. The Tobacco Institute regularly paid scientists to confuse the American public about the hazards of smoking. So, pardon me if I get a little sick to my stomach when Commissioner Shipper accuses Elbert citizens of passing along misinformation. EC residents whom are doing their civic duty should not be chastised for seeking answers to legitimate questions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Institute - cite_note-Brandt-0
http://www.tobaccoinstitute.com/cgi-bin/Rsasearc h.asp
Unfortunately, none of the emails that I or any from the leadership group read said anything about condemnation. Residents are concerned about losing their water through over-pumping, about the quality of their groundwater, and the green light this gives the oil companies poised to frack us. While Mr. Shipper and Ms. Miller were correct in saying that a Metropolitan can't condemn an established right, it was not the point of any of the emails.
The Denver Bedrock Aquifers are a non-renewable source of water. If the aquifers were to be pumped dry tomorrow, it will take thousands upon thousands of years to recharge them. The more we encourage the wholesale pumping of the aquifers, the sooner we will become dependent on people who are in the business of brokering renewable water rights.
As a point of clarification, I checked with the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Up until 1985, it was possible for water entities to claim un-adjudicated water rights. That is no longer true. The Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metropolitan District cannot make a claim on water beneath your property without your permission, even if your rights have not been adjudicated. That is really good news and
I have no problem withdrawing my claim that the water district could petition the court to lay claim to the un-adjudicated water within their boundaries. That said, the point still remains that if a water rush occurs because the proposed pipeline is built and there is a way to move the water out of the county the aquifer levels will begin a precipitous drop. Remember that this aquifer system is a non-renewable water source and once depleted, it is gone for all intents and purposes, forever. Nobody will be interested in giving you money to drill your replacement well when the water levels are no longer sufficient enough to meet your needs.
Never let it be forgotten that the plan presented by E&86CMD that sits before the BOCC was outlined in the Denver Post in 2005 by reporter Chuck Plunkett . The only difference is that, it was then being proposed by Robert Lembke. You remember who Lembke is: the guy with the empty water reservoir; the guy that sits with Commissioner Schlegel on the board of The Elkhorn Ranch Metropolitan District? Of course we are told that it is all just coincidence. Mr. Schlegel still needs to recuse himself.

After years of criticizing J.H. Schroder, the former head of the Republican Party in Elbert County, I need to give him credit where credit is due: His argument against the formation of this project was compelling and to the point. His Republican brethren on the BOCC would do well to heed his advice. Well said, J.H.!
Recharging of an aquifer with treated sewage effluent or excess water runoff may be the wave of the future, but the practice is in its infancy. I believe the community needs more time to learn about the safety and practicality of this process. I have included a couple of links that explain the theory and practice of Aquifer Recharge.
Did anyone else notice the flies? I know the county is broke, so I am suggesting the next time we meet at the EC Fairgrounds that everybody brings a fly swatter. Of course it could have been predicted because the common housefly is attracted to the smell of manure and the proposal before the BOCC was pretty odiferous... just saying.
If the proposal offered up by E&86CMD is tossed over to the Elbert County Planning Commission, I want to remind the public that there are several large landowners on this Board who own property in the area of the proposed pipeline and who stand to make millions from the sale of water. Those members will need to disclose their land holdings and recuse themselves in order to maintain the public trust.
When former Elbert County Commissioner John Metli shows up to defend a project, BE CONCERNED. When John dusts off his standard, "We are a nation of laws" speech to defend a BOCC decision, BE VERY, VERY CONCERNED. If you did not read it carefully before, read Chuck Plunketts Denver Post article to see who was in part responsible for unleashing Robert Lembke and his water plans on the folks of Elbert. Don't forget that Metli owns huge amounts of land in the county and would have a way to sell his water if the deal goes down.
Mr. Shipper and Dianne Miller, attorney for E&86CMD, provided the audience with a heavenly little slice of Kabuki Theater in their exchange about intercepted emails. They reported that the citizen emails were promoting the idea that the Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metropolitan District was intending to condemn residents' water rights.
It is the opinion of this author that Kurt Schlegel is an officious politician who thinks very highly of himself. At the July 27th BOCC meeting, he never missed an opportunity to make disparaging quips about the word "tax" or "progressive." It was inappropriate in relation to the topic at hand.
The State of Colorado's population rate has grown by 16.9% since the 2000 census, down from 30.9% in the previous census. The increase that Elbert County experienced was actually nearly a 10th of a percent less than the state's growth. To use the 16% growth figure as a reason why we should rush out and build a water pipeline is disingenuous at best. Our population growth has actually subsided. This is the type of manipulation of facts speaks volumes about the agenda of our local government.

Robert Thomasson
Verify my facts. Do your homework. Protect your water.
Douglas County has gone through all of this before us. Their wells are going down at an astounding rate of 365 inches per year. As a result of poor water management, the people in that county are rapidly finding themselves held hostage to water monopolies disguised as metropolitan districts. It does not take a high-priced lawyer to see where this is all headed. The agricultural base of Elbert County has enough water to sustain itself for a good long while, but not if we continue to plan for a phantom population that the developers who sit on these boards hope to entice into the area. Speculators' mantra has always been, "Build it and they will come!
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleinfiltration .html
http://www.oas.org/dsd/publications/unit/oea59e/ch 18.htm
July 31, 2011