The Monolith Ranch Advisory Committee has been working on a series of projects to use all its water effectively in order to keep the agricultural operation on the ranch running smoothly and, more importantly, to ensure the ranch is using and maintaining the city’s water rights in the area. One project harnesses a water right the city has been paying for but not previously utilizing.
The committee met on Thursday for a quarterly report, and learned the city and Baer Livestock, the tenant on the ranch, have been working on various water improvement projects this quarter.
“Most of the projects that we do out there have a city focus on them, especially the major projects,” said Darren Parkin, the city’s water resources administrator. “A lot of these projects that we do in conjunction with Baer Livestock that are more focused on their agricultural operation tend to be smaller types of projects like maintenance upkeep and small capital improvements.”
Parkin said one of the major ongoing projects is bringing water to an underutilized part of the ranch, the Pioneer Pasture. Although Parkin said during the meeting he expects the meadow rehabilitation in the area to be a “multi-year, long-term project,” he added the endeavor helps the city begin to utilize water rights it had already been funding.
“[We are] trying to get that into a meadow that looks nice and is irrigated can be used like the rest of the ranch is,” Parkin said. “Plus, we’re paying assessments to the Pioneer Canal and Irrigation District; they’re about $1,000 a year and we haven’t been utilizing that water.”
He added the parcel is the part of the city-sized ranch the public tends to see, which right now isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Once we get water into that pasture, the pasture itself is not in good shape,” Parkin said at the meeting. “It’s our most public part of the ranch, and it’s the ugliest part of the ranch.”
Another major city project at the ranch this quarter was adding new remote monitoring systems, which Parkin said will help with data collection and monitoring.
“We put cell phone telemetry in all those stations,” Parkin said. “Now we can monitor remotely with a computer, laptop or phone so that we know when we have problems and where our water is at, even on the weekends and over holidays.”
Parkin added the new monitoring systems will help the city report how much of the water right the city is using. He explained when the city wants to transfer the water right for municipal use in the future, the amount of water previously used will be transferred, not necessarily the full water right amount. Since the ranch uses water from a variety of water rights, including the Laramie River and Simpson Springs, it’s imperative the ranch uses the water so it’s available later, he said.
Other completed and in-progress projects include improving water pressure in various pastures, irrigation improvements for hay and water storage improvements for winter corrals throughout the large ranch.
Parkin said the Monolith Ranch is not “in the ranching business” but in the “water business." The ranch, however, still tends to make a minor profit each year, despite a “false perception” in the public that says otherwise.
The Monolith Ranch Advisory Committee is a voluntary city committee with up to seven members who evaluate current and future uses of the ranch, especially regarding the city’s water rights there.