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Cucharas district finally finishes water tank project

CUCHARA — At the November 14 meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District, General Manager Bob Northup announced that, after nearly four years of planning and activity, the Cuchara water tank project is done. According to Northup, the startup of the tank was done on November 13, and the workers ran water into the tank until about 4 pm that day. “Over the course of this next week, I need to fill up the tank and then drain it,” Northup said. He added that the tank is well away from residential areas and the stream, so the small amount of chlorine he will add to the water to clean it will not have an effect on anything else. “I’m very pleased,” said Chairman Art Pierce. “That’s very good news.” The board still has to pay some money out for the tank, but everything is basically taken care of. Northup also stated that he would like to get a fence built around the plant this year. The district is in the process of getting estimates on replacing the south-facing windows of the CSWD office building. Addressing that, Pierce said, “We need to maintain our facility.” Also,

according to Pierce, the electronic water meter reader is beginning to malfunction, so the board will be looking for a new one. The board approved a new vendor for credit card payment of water bills. Regarding the vendor the board had been using before, Pierce said, “It kind of blew up in our face.” The district changed vendors but found the cost was virtually the same. In his manager’s report to the board, Northup said, “It’s been rather busy this last month.” Regarding the sewer project, he said, “Everyone was hooked back up in time.” Reportedly, Huerfano County is trying to come up with some black chip for the roads that were torn up, so the project is virtually finished save for more gravel being put on the roads. Northup also spoke about problems with the water plant at the ski resort and said, “I’ve been pulling my hair out for a while on this.” According to Northup, there are continuing problems, including power outages, which affect the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. SCADA is a combination of software and hardware that monitors process control by gathering data, processing it, and warning when conditions are of concern or even hazardous. Director Jim Berg addressed fire hydrant testing and said, “We really need to get that done this year.” Berg said the district would lose points for its ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating, which in turn could affect residents’ insurance rates. ISO provides up-to-date information about a community’s fire-protection services.  Art Pierce spoke for the pond owner committee, explaining that the board is hoping to move the pond owners from a temporary water augmentation plan into a permanent one. He proposed that, in order to achieve that, the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District share the expenses of legal and engineering fees with the pond owners through June of 2016. Pierce said that any costs exceeding $30,000 should be the sole responsibility of the pond owners. “Our expectation and hope is that it won’t cost us more than $10,000,” said Pierce. In comparison, according to discussions at meetings of the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, HCWCD has estimated it will have spent about $70,000 in legal and engineering fees alone by the time its permanent augmentation plan on the Huerfano River gets through water court. Pierce reported that the South Baker Creek Reservoir Committee is trying to acquire property for the proposed reservoir. The idea for the reservoir first arose at CSWD’s May 2014 monthly meeting. According to Pierce, the committee went to the landowner with an offer and initially received a negative response. “My expectation is that it’s dead for the time being,” said Pierce. He also noted that a reservoir in that area would be beneficial, but, “We’ll just have to see where it goes from here.” He stated that the board is being careful with its resources, and the committee will remain informed. Berg added, “We’ll keep this alive through the Arkansas Basin Roundtable,” and remarked that anything regarding water storage is of great interest to the Roundtable. Earlier in the week, Northup, Berg, and Pierce met as an executive committee to preview the meeting’s agenda and discussed progress on the downtown Cuchara sewer project, a project that was originally requested by Dog Bar owner Cal Sandbeck in October of 2013. The board also discussed rising prices of some budget items, particularly legal expense, which is almost double from last year. Northup explained that the district is involved in several water cases right now that may be wrapped up soon. The directors expressed interest in having their water attorney attend a meeting and bring them up to speed on what is being worked on. Otherwise, Berg observed the budget is very similar to last year’s. The budget was accepted unanimously.

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