- About WIP
- Participating Entities
- Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District
- City of Durango Water Commission
- Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority
- Dolores Conservation District
- Dolores Water Conservancy District
- Empire Electric Association
- Florida Water Conservancy District
- La Plata Archuleta Water District
- La Plata Electric Association
- La Plata Water Conservancy District
- Mancos Conservation District
- Mancos Water Conservancy District
- Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD)
- Pine River Irrigation District
- San Juan Water Conservancy District
- Southwestern Water Conservation District
- U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
- Regional Water Projects
- Animas River Stakeholders
- Animas-La Plata Project
- Cloud Seeding Program
- Dolores Project (McPhee Reservoir)
- Dry Gulch Reservoir (Pending)
- Florida Project (Lemon Reservoir)
- Jackson Gulch Reservoir
- Long Hollow Reservoir
- Pine River Project (Vallecito Reservoir)
- Rio Blanco Restoration Project
- River Protection Work Group
- UMETCO (Urivan) Water Rights
- Water Information
- Contact WIP
In 1922, the Colorado River Compact was signed to allocate the river’s water between the seven states and Mexico that rely on and share this water. At the time the Compact was signed, the Colorado River delivered an average of 16.5 million AF of water annually to 20 million people. As discussed in the previous article, that average is now down to 13 million AF for a population of approximately 170 million (2010). The following provides the Lower and Upper Basin states 1922 versus 2010 populations:
An avalanche or two above the headgate at Bear Creek blocked two creeks and nearly choked off Silverton’s water supply, which in turn froze their water line in February. The town’s public works crew struggled for 12 days to keep water flowing to businesses and residences. At one point, the crew had to use the fire department’s water truck to transfer water to the plant to keep the town supplied. Kuddos and congratulation to the Silverton’s public works crew for putting in long hours under miserable conditions to keep the town’s water system flowing.
Oil and gas companies will be required to test the groundwater around new drilling operations in Colorado beginning May 1, 2013. In January, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved new rules requiring energy companies to test up to four domestic water wells within a half-mile radius of all new oil and gas wells both before and after drilling begins. The rule aims to ensure that drilling and fracking are not contaminating groundwater. In addition, in February the COGCC voted to raise the minimum distance between wells and homes as well as other buildings to at least 500 feet statewide. The reason for the increased setback, among other issues (e.g., increases in dust, noise, etc.), were water contamination and quality issues. Previously, the state’s minimum distance was 150 feet in rural areas and 350 feet in urban settings. But starting August 1st, new wells drilled in Colorado must be at least 500 feet from buildings.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management, along with landowners and environmental groups, have appealed an Arizona Department of Water Resources decision to approve a Los Angeles real estate company’s request to pump roughly 3,000 acre feet of water a year from state land near the San Pedro River--the last big, free flowing river in the southwest. The real estate company plans to use the water for development, but opponents argue the company would be intercepting water that would have otherwise flowed to replenish the river and the surrounding San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area, which contains nearly 57,000 acres of federal land.
According to a January New York Times article county sheriffs, farmers, and ranchers across the West are grappling with a new scourge: hay rustling. Months of drought and grass fires have pushed the price of grain, hay, and other animal feed to near records, making the hay bales an increasingly irresistible target for thieves. Some steal them for profit, while others are fellow farmers acting out of desperation. Sheriffs in rural counties in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma say the spike in hay thefts is part of a broader rise in agricultural crime. California’s farmers have grappled recently with growing thefts of grapes, beehives and avocados, and sheriffs say high prices of scrap metal have made agricultural machinery--whether it works or not--an appealing target. On the range, wire fences are being clipped to allow interloping herds to poach grazing land. In addition, dubious online merchants are selling feed to farmers but never delivering.
Water managers across the region are scrambling to meet demands as much needed precipitation is lacking, while groundwater, reservoir, and river levels continue to decline. As an example, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) recently had to stock rainbow trout from their hatchery in Durango to area reservoirs earlier than usual. This was necessary because of very low water conditions at the hatchery. According to Jim White, aquatic biologist with the CPW, the Durango hatchery requires about 1000-1200 gallons of water per minute from groundwater sources to supply their operations. "The groundwater table was so low this winter that flows dropped to less than 800 gallons per minute" said White, and therefore we had to release some of the fish planned for summer stocking early.
Planners and engineers in the seven-state Colorado River Basin have spent three years and $4 million to forecast water supply and demand scenarios from now through 2060. As part of this, a recently completed (December 2012) 1,500 page was funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the seven Colorado River Basin states: the upper basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and the lower basin states of Arizona, California, and Nevada.
La Plata County has a very active youth baseball program, but was woefully lacking fields to play on. In 2010 the nonprofit, volunteer organization Youth Baseball of Southwestern Colorado (YBSWC) approached the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District (ALPWCD) about property the district owns near the Durango Pumping Plant that supplies the water for Lake Nighthorse. After the ALPWCD posted announcements in the local paper to solicit further interests in use of the property, the YBSWC was the only entity to respond. In 2011 they signed a 20 year lease for $100 per year with the ALPWCD for youth sporting events. Since that time, community funds and time have been donated to build two professional, regulation youth baseball fields, and plans are on track to begin playing ball this spring. Thank you ALPWCD for going to bat for youth baseball in La Plata County and southwest Colorado!
The Ditch and Reservoir Company Alliance (DARCA) conducted their 11th Annual Convention, “Water of Food; Food for Life,” March 6-8 at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, CO. The event allows ditch company personnel, farmers, ranchers, and other water professionals from around the state to network and exchange and obtain valuable information.
The DARCA is a non-profit organization formed in 2001 to support the state’s ditch and reservoir companies. DARCA’s mission is to help these businesses and their shareholders find cost effective solutions to issues such as growing urbanization, increased regulations, as well as many other problems that are now facing these historic businesses.
The Town of Silverton recently completed reconstruction of the Molas Lake Dam, as well as rehabilitation to the Molas Lake Ditch. These upgrades were needed to support a 2004 municipal water right filing on the Molas Ditch. The dam improvements were a requirement imposed by the State Engineer, Division of Water Resources, to improve the small earthn