Dry Gulch Water Storage Project update presented

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On Monday, Nov. 9, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) held its regular meeting, during which an update was presented on the Dry Gulch Water Storage Project.

In 2008, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) and the SJWCD purchased 660 acres of land for the Dry Gulch reservoir.

PAWSD originally took the lead on the project, based on its investment of $10 million, in comparison to the SJWCD’s investment of $1 million.

A little over two years ago, PAWSD sent notice of its intent to withdraw from the Dry Gulch project due to the recession and changes in PAWSD leadership.

The solution came in the form of a three-way agreement between SJWCD, PAWSD and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).

“Through efforts to refinance the debt resulting from the PAWSD investment, cooperation from CWCB to work with both parties, and SJWCD’s single-minded efforts to salvage the project and take the lead in moving it forward, it all eventually got worked out,” SJWCD President Rod Proffitt stated in an email to The SUN.

According to Proffitt, for the SJWCD, three things are outstanding in regard to the project.

One, the original agreement on the $1 million received from CWCB called for that money to be a grant unless work was not started on the project by 2024, at which time it would become a loan.

As re-written, the CWCB may seek payment by sale of the land purchased, but cannot seek anything from SJWCD should that sale result in less than the investment.

Two, both PAWSD and CWCB have agreed to cooperate in supporting the due diligence necessary to keep the conditional water rights for this project viable, and as part of that, SJWCD is recognized as the lead entity in moving the project forward.

Three, PAWSD has agreed to limit its exploration for additional water and will rely on Dry Gulch for the purchase of any water it might need in the future.

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