Water district, Bayfield agree on expansion

A proposal to bring potable water to residents in the southeast corner of La Plata County is finally in the starting blocks.

The town of Bayfield and the La Plata-Archuleta Water District signed an agreement Tuesday to expand the town’s water-treatment plant.

Under the agreement, the district will pay for the work, a more economical solution than building its own treatment plant.

The district estimates the cost of plant expansion at $5 million. Capacity would be increased from 1.5 million gallons a day to 2.5 mgd. The plant currently treats 900,000 gallons a day.

Water already is available to the district through a contract with the Pine River Irrigation District.

No one from the public commented on the plan at the town council meeting Tuesday, said Steve Harris, the district’s engineer.

“We’ve been working on this for eight or nine months,” Town Manager Chris La May said. “We think that by working together we can provide economical water service for users in Bayfield and the water district.”

A pipeline that will follow Bayfield Parkway and then County Road 509 southward is the first step, Harris said.

“That is the closest point where there are residents who want water,” Harris said.

Work could begin this year, Harris said.

Simultaneously, the district and the town will select an engineering firm to design the plant expansion, Harris said.

If all goes according to plan, the district ultimately will serve 400 square miles in southeast La Plata County and southwest Archuleta County.

Discussion of forming the district dates to at least the early 1990s.

Members of a group organized as Opponents of the Gopher Hole Project said it was too expensive and an avenue for land developers to subdivide.

Opponents were allowed to opt out. In 2010, voters agreed to tax themselves to further the project.

daler@durangoherald.com