MWCD Considers Jackson Gulch Reservoir Ownership

The Mancos Water Conservancy District (MWCD) is looking into the process of taking ownership of the Jackson Gulch Reservoir, the canal, and all the associated land from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR). "It may be slow and hard and cumbersome," said James Hess, BOR's title transfer coordinator. He said transfers of ownership can take several years and some negotiations have stretched for 15 years or more depending on the complexity of the project. The BOR is generally interested in turning over control if the agency is not adding value to the project and the agency does not need to referee major competing water interests such as reservoirs that serve multiple states. Jackson Gulch Reservoir falls into this category. Only 27 other water projects in the country have been fully transferred from the federal government to a local organization. Owning the project would give the district greater financial freedom to finance repairs in-house instead of applying for state and federal loans. It would also give the MWCD control over decisions such as installing hydroelectric generators. In addition, the district would also no longer be subject to BOR oversight, but it would assume liability for all Jackson Gulch Reservoir structures. If the MWCD took control, the reservoir would continue to be a state park and water would be allocated the way it is now, but would be subject to safety and environmental oversight from the state.