Important water meetings coming up

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Some local well owners have found their wells unusable this summer due to drought conditions. 

Ditches dried up early, too. River flows are down. Seasonal ponds had a very short life. 

Fishing in the San Juan River through town is currently discouraged in the afternoon due to increased water temperatures and low water flows.

While the recent rains have been a blessing, it has not been enough to reverse the damage.

With numerous housing projects proposed in the area, the demand for water will only be increasing.

Will there be enough water to meet that need?

An analysis of current and future water supply and demand in the Upper San Juan River Basin through the year 2050 will be presented Aug. 9 from 6-8 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center at 451 Hot Springs Blvd.

The San Juan Water Supply and Demand Analysis will be presented by Wilson Water Group. The study documents current and future demands for water from municipal, agricultural, and environmental and recreational users, and proposes solutions for meeting any potential shortages in water supply in the future.

The program will be hosted by the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD), which is responsible for commissioning the study. 

The evening will also include a roundtable discussion on water issues facing our region.

The event description notes: “With changing climate conditions, drought, and an uptick in regional growth, the SJWCD is embarking on an outreach initiative to work collaboratively with our stakeholders to bring awareness to these issues. We can’t do this alone, join us and share your ideas, thoughts, and comments at our outreach event.”

The study considers the need for the highly debated Dry Gulch Reservoir. 

“WWG did a water availability analysis to determine the potential range of reservoir sizes that would be needed to meet the range of projected shortages shown … The goals of the reservoir analysis were to meet municipal demands all years and to meet other shortages except in dry years,” reads the report.

A draft version of the water study will be posted at pagosasun.com under the opinion section. Take a look at the study and bring your concerns to this very important meeting. It is asked that you RSVP for planning purposes: mavis@prstudioco.com.

Snowball Water Treatment Plant

Another opportunity to give input on future water projects is planned for next month when the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) holds a public hearing concerning proposed upgrades to the Snowball Water Treatment Plant on Aug. 18.

This meeting was originally set for June 9; however, the cost of the project jumped from an estimated $25 million to a whopping approximately $40 million, causing the meeting to be rescheduled. 

Due to an increase in the cost of the project, PAWSD had to reapply for a larger loan. The public hearing is a requirement of the Colorado State Revolving Fund loan that PAWSD is pursuing for the project.

It is currently unknown how that $40 million proposal will trickle down to our water bills. There is no doubt we will be paying more to fund this plant.

Proposed treatment plant alternative designs, preferred design, proposed rate increases due to the project and environmental impacts of the project will be presented at the meeting.

The meeting will include opportunities for public comment and the engineers for the project will be present to explain the designs. 

The meeting will be held at 5 p.m. at the PAWSD administrative office at 100 Lyn Ave.

These public meetings will provide an opportunity to explore options.

Water projects come with a cost, but the price to pay for no water would be even greater.

Terri Lynn Oldham House