La Plata West Water Authority (LPWWA)
The La Plata West Water Authority was formed in late 2007 through by the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District (ALPWCD) and the La Plata Water Conservancy District (LPWCD) as sponsoring Members. Pursuant to the provisions of the Colorado Constitution, Article XIV, § 18(2)(a) and (2)(b), and C.R.S §, et seq. (the “Intergovernmental Relationships Act” or the “IGA Act”), the Members (ALPWCD and LPWCD) have the authority to establish a water authority as a separate governmental entity in order to make the best use of their joint resources to effect the development of water resources, systems, or facilities in whole or in part for the benefit of the inhabitants of such Members; to further develop domestic water operations and facilities; to serve a public purpose, and to promote the health, safety, prosperity, security and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Members.
The initial focus and task of the Authority was to construct an intake structure to provide access to water from the Animas-La Plata (A-LP) Project reservoir (Lake Nighthorse). A design/build process in early 2008 resulted in commitment of an initial $1.1 million from the Southwest and State Roundtable groups. Based on that initial funding, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (UMUT) committed an additional $4.5 million toward the intake structure, which was completed and turned over to the Authority in July of 2009. Through 2010 and 2011, the Authority completed a funding package that was submitted to USDA Rural Development for a comprehensive project to serve the entire western portion of La Plata County. With a total project estimated project cost of $34.5 million, the project was determined to be too expensive, based on initial commitments from about 650 property owners. Also, during this same time, the Lake Durango Water Authority (LDWA) successfully secured about $3 million in additional funding to construct a raw water pipeline from the intake structure to Lake Durango. Additional negotiations resulted in an additional $2 million being committed by the SUIT and UMUT toward the construction of this pipeline. A project design and associated agreements providing for LDWA to provide treated water for initial LPWWA users has progressed in parallel with a phased distribution system design for the LPWWA distribution system. As of January 2016, about 140 property owners have paid subscription fees in the area west of Long Hollow, south of CR 141 and east of the La Plata River south to the Marvel and Church Hollow areas.
Throughout the history of the project, additional project and operating funds have been provided through funding from the ALPWCD, Southwest Water Conservancy District, and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority.
The stated purpose of the LPWWA is to design, construct and operate a rural distribution water system, and to that end, it is the intent of the Members (ALPWCD and LPWCD) to extend to the Authority the maximum flexibility and authority to conduct the business of operating the rural distribution water system and enter into additional intergovernmental agreements or perform any other necessary functions to further such purposes.
The La Plata West Water Authority is governed by a nine member Board of Directors, with current Board members, offices and terms listed below. The ALPWCD and LPWCD Boards each appoint three directors to staggered terms of three years (LPWCD appointees must be residents of the LPWCD district). These six Board members appoint a seventh Board member to a three year term and each of the participating Ute Tribes has a voting member designated by respective Tribal councils.
- Mardi Gebhardt-President
- Paul Gray-First Vice President
- Frank Smith-Second Vice President
- Deb Flick-Treasurer
- Barb McCall-Secretary
The Board of Directors meets the second Wednesday of each month at the Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School Conference Room at 6:30 PM, unless otherwise noticed.