Dolores Water Conservancy District

According to a Cortez Journal article, the Dolores Water Conservancy District (DWCD) took a small step this spring toward determining whether a large hydroelectric plant could be built at Plateau Creek, a tributary of McPhee Reservoir. The District is not funding or building the project, explained general manager Mike Preston, but they agreed April 11 to contribute $30,000 toward an $80,000 preliminary feasibility analysis. "We are not asking for power if this project goes. We are asking for a cut of the revenues with a little cash investment because it's our neighborhood and our water right," Preston said of the cost-share. The complicated process is in its very initial stages, and has already led to a turf war, with the district coming out ahead. Last year an engineering firm that is now part of Tetra Tech, based in Pasadena, Calif., submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to study building a pumped-storage hydroelectricity plant at Plateau Creek. But DWCD, fearing it would be on the outside looking in at a large private project that involved McPhee Reservoir, submitted a competing bid claiming municipal preference. FERC agreed and awarded the feasibility permit to the local water district last summer. Permit in hand, the DWCD put out a request for proposals for an investor willing to conduct the feasibility study. Preston explained being awarded the permit puts the district, "in the driver's seat, and puts us in a position to realize the benefits of a hydro-electric plant while making sure it is not detrimental to the Dolores Project."