State grant furthers water district project

Southeast La Plata County first in line

The La Plata Archuleta Water District, preparing to break ground on its first pipeline network, has received $500,000 from state sources to further the project.

A Colorado Water Conservation Board grant will cover $475,000, with the remainder coming from the Southwest Basin Roundtable’s share of the Water Supply Reserve Account.

Ground breaking is scheduled Nov. 13. Water will be available for the district’s first customers next year, Steve Harris, the district’s engineer, said Friday.

Long-range plans envision serving 400 square miles, first in southeast La Plata County and later southwest Archuleta County.

Talk of forming the district began at least in the early 1990s. Opponents of the Gopher Hole Project organized to oppose the idea, saying it was too expensive and opened the door for developers to subdivide.

In 2010, voters approved the mill levy to buy equipment for treatment and distribution of water. Opponents were allowed to opt out, which means they won’t pay the mill levy.

A change of heart by an original opponent or a new property owner would require applying to join the district, pay the requisite petition fees and the $5,550 tap fee.

A contract with Pine River Irrigation District gives the La Plata Archuleta district 200 acre-feet of water a year from Vallecito Reservoir, the source of most of Bayfield’s water.

The pipeline will follow Bayfield Parkway from the roundabout on County Road 501 to County Road 509, then south along County Road 509 to County Road 510, where it will turn west.

Harris said the route is the logical one to get the pipeline network to the rural area to be served. The immediate area has a good number of potential customers, he added.

The district’s water will come from the city of Bayfield treatment plant, the capacity of which is to be expanded from 1.5 million gallons a day to 2.5 mgd. The plant currently treats 900,000 gallons a day.

Expansion of the plant is expected to accommodate growth in the area for 10 years.

The district will foot the total $7.75 million cost of expansion. Building its own water-treatment facility would have cost more.

Construction will use $5 million of borrowed money and $2.75 million of revenue from a 5 mill tax levy to expand the plant.

The first two miles of pipeline will be 14 inches in diameter to accommodate several laterals, Harris said.

“Once we get into the rural area, we’ll use 8-inch pipe,” Harris said.

Crossfire LLC has been chosen to lay the pipeline. A contract with the Oxford firm is expected to be signed before Nov. 13, Harris said.

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