Water study to be topic of public meeting


By Al Pfister | San Juan Water Conservancy District

Though the recent rains have been a great temporary reprieve from the past year’s lack of precipitation, we are still not “out of the woods” in getting our overall water supply needs met. We have been in a drought for the past 20 years. 

Our water future is predicted to be a continuation of these conditions — warmer and drier. Although we have had good water years over these past 20 years, as water levels at all the Colorado River storage projects (Flaming Gorge, Blue Mesa, Navajo, Lake Powell) indicate, the Colorado River watershed is facing a dire water future as populations expand, water recreational uses increase, and fisheries and wildlife aquatic habitats decline.

How do we plan for a future with less water? 

Numerous entities are working to address our warming and drying water future, at both the state and local levels. The Colorado Water Conservation Board just released the draft revised State Water Plan. This 200-plus page document is available at engagecwcb.org and is open for public comment until Sept. 30. 

Here in Archuleta County, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) is charged by state statute with ensuring that the agricultural, environmental, industrial, municipal and recreational water needs of our district are met. This is in addition to the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District providing at least 75 percent of our community’s municipal water needs. The Upper San Juan Watershed Enhancement Partnership just completed a three-year effort to identify the environmental, recreational and agricultural infrastructure needs of our community. Other efforts by other entities are also being conducted in coordination with those above but are too numerous to discuss here. 

In order to get an overall picture of our agricultural, environmental, municipal and recreational water supply and demands, the SJWCD engaged the Wilson Water Group to assess our future water needs as projected through the year 2050. Data from the aforementioned efforts were used to estimate our water needs, and then discuss potential alternatives to meeting those future needs. 

The SJWCD is holding a public meeting to present the draft results of Wilson Water Group on Aug. 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Ross Aragon Community Center. We hope you attend to assist us in gathering additional stakeholder input on their assessment of our future water needs. Click here for the draft technical memo to read prior to the meeting

If you cannot attend the meeting, we would appreciate receiving your comments and sending those comments to comment.sjwcd@gmail.com. The comment period will be open from Aug. 4 through Aug. 31.