La Plata County Commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to retain Bob Wolff as the county’s representative to the Southwestern Water Conservation District.
The water district is comprised of one representative from nine counties in Southwest Colorado who can serve an unlimited number of three-year terms.
The district was created by the state of Colorado in 1941 to conserve and develop water resources of the San Juan and Dolores rivers, as well as their tributaries.
Wolff had been appointed in 2012 and then reapplied for the position. Durango residents Dave Liberman and Davis Mehan also applied to be La Plata County’s representatives.
Commissioners Brad Blake and Julie Westendorff voted to retain Wolff. Commissioner Gwen Lachelt expressed her support for Mehan.
“The amount of time he (Wolff) spends basically as a volunteer for us representing the county is very noted,” Blake said.
Westendorff said she supported Wolff because of his experience with the board, which lost 48 years of institutional knowledge when Montezuma County representative John Porter and San Juan County representative Steve Fearn were voted off the board by their respective counties last year.
Wolff has previously led the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District, which manages the Animas and La Plata rivers, and also served as a county planning commission and worked on the Durango comprehensive plan.
Jimbo Buickerood, public lands manager for San Juan Citizens Alliance, said during public comment that he wants more communication between the Board of County Commissioners and whoever is the elected representative to the water board.
Buickerood said the water district tends to work in a “vacuum” and the public hears little about issues that affect the future watersheds in the region.
“There are some issues that the district takes on that I’m respectfully guessing you are not aware of and that might very well influence things that go on in this county and the future of Southwest Colorado,” he said. “Everyone could benefit by there being better communication.”