- 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
With so many competing interests dependent on the Animas River, any successful efforts to clean it up and preserve it are going to require a lot of compromise. At some points, the complexity of the law, the depth of the bureaucracy and the passions of the opposing sides make reaching a consensus seem unattainably ambitious.
Durango’s 2011 Water Efficiency Management Plan said that to avert possible shortages, Durango must decide by 2015 whether to raise water rates and impose conservation measures. The most shocking fact in the plan is that more than 20 percent of Durango’s water supply is unbilled and unaccounted for because of misplaced meters or unmetered buildings.
For Native Americans who inhabited this area in prehistoric times, the Animas River held little appeal. Fish were not a part of their diet, and they shared with other Western tribes a belief in “water babies,” evil spirits that pulled children into the lake to drown them, said Andrew Gulliford, a professor of history at Fort Lewis College.
According to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, the historical average annual flow in the Animas and Florida rivers is 660,000 acre-feet. Probably the largest amount is pulled out by ranchers and farmers. In 2010, the seven largest ditches diverted 89,139 acre-feet. Partners in the Animas-La Plata Project can take up to 57,100 acre-feet of water a year.
The Animas River flows into Durango like the vena cava into the heart, carrying our lifeblood, sustaining our way of life. But the river is sick, and it is getting sicker every day. A giving waterway, the Animas has silently borne demands placed on it ever since the first settlers populated its banks.
Known by early Spanish explorers as El Río de las Animas Perdidas del Purgatorio (The River of Lost Souls of Purgatory), the Animas River slices through 126 miles of diverse terrain from its source in alpine tundra north of Silverton to mixed conifer forests at the New Mexico state line.
A potential Superfund project in this old mountain mining town to reduce the amount of toxic metals flowing into the Animas River would focus on only the most glaring examples - four mines that are spewing 700 gallons a minute into an Animas tributary.
Crews are working to stop a leak that has raw sewage flowing into the Animas River. City officials say the sewage has been flowing directly into the Animas River since at least Friday. The leak is located just north of the Durango Skate Park on the west bank of the river and appears to be flowing steadily, according to the Durango Herald.
Many people believe that collecting rainfall in Colorado is illegal. But that is like saying that diverting water from a river or well is illegal. Colorado water law governing the diversion and use of all tributary water, including rainfall, is basically the same regardless of its source.
When Sunnyside Mining Company ended operations in Silverton in 1991, it negotiated a court decree to plug mine outlet tunnels, including the main access, the American Tunnel, with bulkheads. But the bulkheads raised the subterranean water level tremendously, increasing pressure that created drainage in nearby mines that had been mostly dry.