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Cucharas District is waiting

by Carol Dunn
CUCHARA- At its September 9 meeting, the Cucharas Board of Directors discussed several projects that are on hold while they await action by others involved.
Work on the Spanish Peaks sewer line extension is at a stand-still while the office waits for one last easement to be granted. Leg A, which was mostly on level ground, is finished. Leg B, dependent on the easement, is an 1,100-foot section which goes straight uphill and makes some corners, and promises to be a challenge.
The district is waiting to hear back on the Substitute Water Supply Plan for pond augmentation that it filed with the state engineer. General Manager Bob Northup said that no one has filed opposition to the plan.
The work on the inlets to the Britton Ponds is on hold waiting for the US Forest Service to issue a permit. Northup said he expects the permit by the end of September. However, director Jim Howard told the Board that it may take longer since the forest service is “pretty much stripped of personnel” because of staff being diverted to working wildfires in Texas and Oregon. Howard said, “this area is ripe” for a wildfire. “According to the old-timers, we haven’t had a fire in this area in over 100 years,” he added.
The district is in communication with CommNet about placing cell phone towers in conjunction with the water tanks on the pass and at the ski resort. Northup said they are trying to determine where the service is most needed.
The long tentacles of the drought have reached into Cuchara, and the potable water well at the district’s wastewater treatment plant went dry at the beginning of September. The well is only 18 feet deep, so recent rains have brought it back into operation. It supplies the sink, bathroom, lab and soda ash feeder. Currently there is no additional storage for the well water besides the pressure tank, so Northup said the well may need to be re-done.
Northup said the staff is finished with water testing for the year. “All the tests we’ve gotten back are really good,” he said. Fire hydrant flushes will be done after more people leave for the season. The district tests about one-quarter of its hydrants each year. Northup also outlined several pending “winter” projects, including replacing microswitches with a solid state control panel on a backup generator. Director Howard said the generator could be crucial if power is lost for an extended period of time. “We’ve had power outages that have lasted four to five hours,” he said.
The district is in the process of moving most of its funds from the two banks in Walsenburg to Wells Fargo Bank in Pueblo. Board chair Gerald Van Nort said the district was previously notified by the local banks that they could no longer provide accounts at no charge because of the large size of the district’s accounts – it has well over a million dollars on deposit. Van Nort said the district may keep up to $250,000 at each of the local banks.