Dolores Water Conservancy District

The Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) has filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a permit for feasibility studies (e.g., economic, engineering, environmental, etc.) related to a pump-back water storage project on Plateau Creek, a tributary of McPhee Reservoir. The purpose of the project is for renewable energy, hydroelectric generation. Preliminarily, it is envisioned that the project would include two reservoirs--an upper with a total storage capacity estimated at 8,000 acre-feet (275 acre surface area) and a lower with a total storage capacity estimated at 9,500 (200 acre surface area).

More than two decades ago the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began studying the feasibility of the project. The project was put on hold due to the cost of the project compared to the revenue potential given power purchase rates at the time. The DWCD filed on the water rights in the event that the project became feasible in the future. Mike Preston, DWCD Manager stated, “We didn’t see a need to pursue it until an outside firm picked up the concept and started to run with it. DWCD holds the water rights and if this project is feasible it should be developed in the best interests of the local community." DWCD’s permit application seeks ‘municipal preference’ for feasibility studies over an out-of-state company, which filed application paperwork with FERC last fall. DWCD hopes its historic water rights and involvement in local water issues will prevail when permits are awarded.