La Plata West Water Authority Completes Intake Structure

Behind the scenes of the ALP, the La Plata West Water Authority (LPWWA) was working to complete an intake structure that would be the first phase of the ‘backbone’ of their project to provide a domestic water system in southwestern La Plata County. The intake structure had to be complete before Lake Nighthorse fills. Work on the $6 million structure began in early December 2008 and was finished in late June.

Funding for the intake structure project has been provided by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe, the Colorado Conservation Board Statewide Account and Southwest Basin Roundtable, the Southwest Water Conservation District, and the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District. The Tribes funding commitment comes from their Resource Funds that were part of the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act Amendments of 2000. The Colorado Water Resource and Power Development Authority has assisted the LPWWA by providing a bridge loan, which will be repaid with the release of the Ute Resource Funds.

The LPWWA project began in 2004 when the Bureau of Reclamation completed a consulting level study to conceptualize a rural water system. From there the LPWWA was formed as a nonprofit organization to begin oversight of the project. In 2006/2007 a preliminary engineering study was conducted. In November 2007, the LPWWA became an independent political subdivision of the state of Colorado created by the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy and the La Plata Water Conservancy Districts. The charge of the LPWWA is to continue a long history of work to provide a domestic water system in rural southwest La Plata County where residents there are on wells or haul water.

If the project proceeds as planned, the $100 million LPWWA project may also use ALP water to supply northern San Juan County in New Mexico, as well as the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribes. Now that the intake structure is complete, the LPWWA will continue working with the Tribes, BOR, La Plata County and engage the public, especially area residents, to further develop the scope and design of the water system and funding sources.