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Carrie Weiss named manager of the Year by Special District Assoc.

Former Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Manager Carrie S. Weiss gained statewide renown recently, as the Special District Association of Colorado (SDA) honored her with its 2010 Manager of the Year Award.

The SDA announced the award at its 35th annual conference in Keystone, Colo., held Sept. 22-24. According to an association press release dated Oct. 7, the SDA presents the annual award to “one special district manager who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, dedication and service to his or her district.”

Weiss joined PAWSD as a customer service representative in 1982. Steadily rising through the administrative ranks, she became assistant manager in 1991, and eventually succeeded longtime manager Jack DeLange in 1998.

When Weiss first joined the district, PAWSD serviced approximately 800 total equivalent units (EUs) — an EU being roughly equal to the amount of water a typical single-family residence uses in a year. Today, PAWSD serves more than 7,100 water and wastewater EUs.

Immediately following a devastating 2002 drought, PAWSD greatly enhanced its Water Conservation Plan under Weiss’ direction. Through the district’s ongoing educational programs, community members soon recognized water as a finite resource and began practicing meaningful conservation. Today, as the plan continually expands, it enjoys statewide recognition as a model in the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s “Guidebook of Best Practice, Handbook for Municipal Water Conservation in Colorado.”

Weiss played a vital role in securing and developing raw water storage, including completion of the Dutton Ditch Pipeline. Though work on the line actually began in the late 1980s, the district realized significant progress over the past 10 years.

As area growth exploded between 1994 and 2006, other projects gained prominence. Just this year, PAWSD completed the enlargement of Stevens Reservoir, while noting marked progress in securing land and water rights (contingent to remand in District Court) for the proposed Dry Gulch Reservoir.

“Developing raw water is a lengthy process,” Weiss once said. “It can take decades and involves many hurdles. Whether or not Dry Gulch remains the selected site for necessary raw water storage, the foundation has been laid and, as the Water Supply Planning Work Group moves forward — in whatever format it evolves — I am confident that we can find a consensus for water storage and how to assure the necessary financing.”

Following 28 years of dedicated service, Weiss resigned her PAWSD position in July, with hope of finding new area employment and spending more time with family. She still belongs to Rotary Club and sits on the San Juan Water Conservancy District Board of Directors.

PAWSD, meanwhile, continues its search for her replacement.

chuck@pagosasun.com