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Last updated 2:14AM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
SE LaPlata Water District Proposed, Again!
(2007-07-09)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A rural water district to serve Southeast La Plata County, and small portions of Archuleta County is back on the drawing board.
Proponents have filed a new proposal, after withdrawing a similar one about one year ago.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: Dick Lunceford says the well water at his home on County Road 308 in Southeast La Plata County, is bad.
And he's not alone.
The combination, he says, of gas production in the area, and more efficient irrigation results in slower recharging of the aquifer he and his neighbors rely on for their water.
Couple that with significant growth in the area, and Lunceford says Southeast La Plata County is prime for a rural water district.
LUNCEFORD: POPULATION HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED IN THE LAST 25 YEARS IN THE AREA WHERE WE'RE PROPOSING THE DISTRICT, AND THE ACTUAL AUQIFER, MOST PEOPLE ARE ON WATER WELLS IN THOSE AREAS, IS ACTUALLY DECLINING. SO YOU HAVE AN INCREASING POPULATION AND A DECLINING AQUIFER WHICH MEANS IN THE FUTURE THAT MORE AND MORE PEOPLE, POTENTIALLY, COULD BE HAULDING WATER.
Lunceford heads up the water district task force.
This is the second time they have proposed creating such a district.
The first petition was withdrawn more than a year ago.
He says they've since tried to iron out objections by the county and others, and are more than willing to exclude from the district, anyone who doesn't want to belong.
Bayfield, Ignacio, the Grandview Urbanizing area and the Southern Ute Tribe, which are all within the proposed districts boundaries, as well as all public lands and those who sought to be excluded the first time the district was proposed, will be excluded under the second petition.
Lunceford says they project serving 2-thousand people within 30-years, which is fewer than half those eligible.
LUNCEFORD: THERE'S POTENTIALLY 5200 PARCELS WITHIN THE CONFINES OF THE DISTRICT RIGHT NOW. PROBABLY 5 OR 6 HUNDRED HAVE ASKED FOR EXCLUSION WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE, BECAUSE SOME OF THEM HAVE GOOD WELLS, SOME OF THEM ARE HAPPY WITH WHERE THEY ARE, WITH THEIR WATER SOURCE.
There's fear among some the district could spur out of control growth in the rural area.
Brian Kimmel, a development agent assisting the water district task force says that's not necessarily so.
He expects the county to clamp down on water well use in the district which will slow present growth.
KIMMELL: THERE'S ALSO THE POTENTIAL OF THE NEW CODE BEING PASSED HERE IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS WHICH IS PROBABLY GOING TO TIGHTEN THINGS UP EVEN MORE, SO TO SAY THAT JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE WATER THERE, DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE AN AUTOMATIC LAND USE PERMIT OR RIGHT TO DEVELOP.
The district, if approved, will get water from the Animas, Piedra and Pine rivers as well as Vallecito Reservoir.
Lunceford hopes to have the district and its controlling board formed in a mail in election early next year.
After that, a second election would be held on financial aspects of the district.
Those include a five mill tax levy that would raise taxes on a 350-thousand dollar home an estimated 140-dollars per year, and a 25-million dollar bond issue that would be repaid by those tax proceeds.
LUNCEFORD: THAT DEBT WOULD ALLOW US TO BORROW THE MONEY TO GO AHEAD AND START SOME OF THE PROCESS UP FRONT. THAT IS, SOME OF THE INITIAL PIPELINE, THE TREATMENT PLANT, THE ENGINEERING, WE'RE PROBABLY GOING TO NEED AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY, THOSE TYPES OF THINGS WOULD ALLOW US TO MOVE AHEAD RATHER THAN WAITING FOR THE REVENUE TO PILE UP INITIALLY.
Lunceford says he's optimistic the district will be approved this time around.
LUNCEFORD: I BELIEVE WE HAVE A LOT OF SUPPORT WITH MEMBERS OF THE DISTRICT THAT ARE GOING TO ACTUALLY BENEFIT FROM THE SERVICE PLAN AND THE RESULTING RURAL WATER DELIVERY. SO I DON'T KNOW, I CAN'T ANTICIPATE OPPOSITION, BUT IT SEEMS IF YOU DO ANYTHING IN THIS COUNTY, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE OPPOSITION SOMEWHERE.
Ultimately, it will be up to a district court judge to determine if the water district's proposal qualifies for an election.
That decision will come only after public hearings and approval at the county level, which is expected to occur over the next several weeks.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.

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