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- Participating Entities
- Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District
- City of Durango Utility 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
- Town of Silverton
- Town of Telluride
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- Animas-La Plata Project (Lake Nighthorse)
- Animas River Stakeholders
- Cloud Seeding Program
- Dolores Project (McPhee Reservoir)
- Dry Gulch Reservoir (Pending)
- Florida Project (Lemon Reservoir)
- Mancos Project (Jackson Gulch Reservoir)
- Long Hollow Reservoir
- Pine River Project (Vallecito Reservoir)
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The news continues to improve for irrigators planning for this year’s crops season, thanks to recent snowstorms. The Dolores Water Conservancy District, which operates McPhee Reservoir, forecasts full-service users will receive at least 15 inches per allocated acre of the 22 inches of a full contractual amount.
There is a lot going on these days that could affect the Dolores Project and many recent events have received newspaper coverage. This column is intended to put these events into a broader context that will help those who are interested understand what is going on as this story continues to unfold.
Tropical Storm Ivo brought just shy of 2 inches of rain to much of the Dolores River Basin near the end of August. The rain provided a dichotomous situation for the thirsty land of Southwest Colorado. Along with the welcome moisture came a flash flood on the Lower Dolores River in Slickrock Canyon.
Cortez’s water rights date back to 1892, when the Dunham & Johnson Ditch, Giogetta Ditch, Illinois Ditch, and Sheek Ditch were decreed for irrigation on the Dolores River above the town of Dolores.
Cortez’s rainfall in September of 2.74 inches has more than doubled the 30-year average, of 1.31 inches as of Monday, said National Weather Service observer Jim Andrus. “We’re still seeing the benefits of the monsoon season, and catching the edge of recent tropical storms in Mexico,” Andrus said.
A better understanding of the needs of native fish on the Lower Dolores river below McPhee dam is key to their survival, two fish biologists told local water boards recently. Jim White and David Graf of Colorado Parks and Wildlife briefed board members of the Dolores Water Conservancy District and Montezuma Valley Irrigation District on current surveys for the flannelmouth sucker, bluehead
Don’t be alarmed. It appears all is calm — with no more ripples — for a year-old City of Cortez water rights request to resolve an issue with generational roots dating back to an oversight early in the 1950s.
McPhee Reservoir managers are concerned that more sections on the lower Dolores River are becoming eligible for a national Wild and Scenic River status. Irrigation managers tend to cringe when they hear Wild and Scenic River talk downstream of their neighborhood, and the Dolores Water Conservancy Board is no exception.
Dolores Project irrigators will receive a bit more water than previously announced, but drought conditions at McPhee Reservoir mean farmers can expect only 20 percent of their normal share this season.
Cortez officials are encouraging residents to conserve water during this summer’s predicted drought. As motivation, they plan to step up enforcement of water restrictions and levy fines to repeat offenders. From May 15 until September 15 lawn watering in Cortez will be prohibited from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days per week.