Community input sought on water plan


By Al Pfister

San Juan Water Conservancy District

The San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) was formed on Oct. 22, 1987, by decree following a majority vote of approval by electors. The SJWCD is funded through a tax on all property within the district’s boundaries. 

The SJWCD’s primary focus since its inception has been water storage. To this end, the main project has been what was formerly referred to as the Dry Gulch Project and is now called the San Juan River Headwaters Project. This effort followed the historic drought years of 2001 and 2002 coupled with relatively rapid growth in Archuleta County from 1990 to 2010. 

Until 2013, these efforts were conducted in partnership with the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD). As a result of an agreement reached in 2013 between the Colorado Water Conservation Board, PAWSD and the SJWCD, the SJWCD assumed the lead for the project.

PAWSD is the main entity that provides water to the majority of Archuleta County residents’ faucets through its water treatment and distribution systems. The SJWCD mission is to ensure a water supply for agricultural, environmental, municipal, commercial and recreational purposes. Thusly, PAWSD and the SJWCD are the two primary entities involved with the management of water in Archuleta County.

Perspectives and opinions abound on the activities conducted by the SJWCD over the course of our history. For the past 18 months, the SJWCD board of directors has been drafting a strategic plan. The purpose of this draft strategic plan is to identify water resource issues in the Upper San Juan River Basin within the SJWCD’s geographical scope, evaluate the district’s options for addressing those issues and outline the options selected for action. All agricultural, municipal, commercial, recreational and environmental water needs are considered. Other objectives in undertaking this planning process are to assist the board of directors in developing long-term direction for the district, relay that direction to the community, and identify measures the board can implement in the future to further that direction.

In an effort to gather input from the community, the SJWCD has posted its draft strategic plan on its website and is soliciting comments until Sept. 7. The draft strategic plan can be found at