Fall 2011

Top Stories

Ute Mountain Ute Leader, Ernest House Sr., Passes

Ernest House Sr. was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident outside of Cortez on September 17th; he was 65.

People & Organizations

Animas-La Plata Project Tribute Garden Dedicated

The Animas-La Plata (ALP) Project tribute garden was dedicated during a ceremony on October 21st.

Bayfield and LPAWD Continue Joint Water Plant Talks

A joint Bayfield/La Plata Archuleta Water District (LPAWD) water treatment plant would cost substantially less than if LPAWD builds a separate plant from scratch. That was the key result of a feasibility study presented to Bayfield town trustees in August.

Durango Asks Voters to Buy Water

On November 1st, Durango voters will be asked to approve $4 million in debt to allow the City of Durango to purchase 3,800 acre-feet (AF) of annual water supply from the Animas-La Plata Project (ALP).

Durango Still Considering Recreation Oversight at Lake Nighthorse

Under the most recent proposal, and according to a recent Durango Herald article, the city can take charge of recreation at Lake Nighthorse and not lose money. Phase 1 of the plan calls for the park to open in 2012 and projects total revenue of $161,900 and total expenditures of $161,165. Park visitors could pay $5 per vehicle for a day pass or $50 for an annual pass.

Jackson Gulch Reservoir

Upgrades at Jackson Gulch reservoir are complete as of October 21st. With 2010 federal appropriation funds of $1.75 million, 1800 feet of pipe was installed at the reservoir.

LPEA Receives USDA Grant

The La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) was awarded a $100,000 USDA-Rural Development Grant last fall to help members save energy and explore renewable energy options.  The funds are designated to assist rural small businesses, specifically irrigators and water companies, with energy audits and renewable energy development. 

Current Events

Pagosa Geothermal Hot Springs Makes Guinness Book of World Records

A new Guinness World Records achievement was verified on August 20th at the Pagosa geothermal hot springs, measuring the deepest in the worl

Sunnyside Offers $6.5M for Mine Cleanup

According to a Durango Herald article, the largest gold producer ever in Silverton, Sunnyside Gold Corporation, has offered $6.5 million toward cleaning up toxic waste leaking from one of its mines.

Water Quality / Conservation

Nutrients Emerging As New Water-Quality Concern

Colorado is proposing to control nutrients in water for the first time. Nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorous, are essential for plant and animal growth, but they can create algae blooms that steal oxygen from aquatic life.

More Invasives Found in State Waters

Biologists with Colorado Parks and Wildlife say they continue to find new signs of aquatic invaders in Colorado waters, including New Zealand mudsnails, which showed up in East Delaney Butte Reservoir this summer.

Water Law

CWCB Approves Appropriation of Instream Flow on San Miguel

The San Miguel River, a 70-mile ribbon of water that flows from the north side of Wasatch Mountain to a desert canyon in Montrose County, isn’t a river that experiences huge flows. Even during spring runoff, the river normally stays below 1,500 cfs, and in winter months, it drops to less than 100 cfs.

Tipton Hydro Bill

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) recently introduced a bill aimed at streamlining the process to approve federal small conduit hydroelectricity projects.

Roundtable Update

Southwest Basin Roundtable

The Southwest Basin Roundtable (SBR) conducted their last quarterly meeting of 2011 on October 12th in Cortez. In addition to discussion of Roundtable business, to include fund balances both at the local and state levels, two new SBR representatives were elected.

WIP News

Water 101 Seminar

The Sixth Annual Water 101 Seminar was successfully conducted on October 7th in Pagosa Springs. There were nearly 30 participants, many of whom were realtors and lawyers who received continuing education credits for their attendance. We were again honored to have Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs as the keynote speaker.

Water History

Durango’s Worst Flood: October 5, 1911

Rainfall in semi-arid Southwest Colorado is usually a blessing, but in 1911, it was another story after 36 hours of rain dropped 3.42 inches of rain in Durango and 4 inches in Silverton.

Miscellaneous Facts

USGS WaterWatch

The U.S. Geological Survey has a fascinating interactive site for real-time information on stream flows, generally updated on an hourly basis.