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Cucharas District revises pond owner agreement

CUCHARA — Administrative assistant Jennette Coe gave the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District directors an update on the pond owners agreement at the February 19 board meeting. Coe reported that, at the end of January, new pond agreements were sent out to the participating pond owners. According to Coe, the new agreement is similar to the substitute water supply agreement the pond owners signed in 2010. The district agreed to pay up to $15,000 for a water case to establish a permanent augmentation plan, and each pond owner will pay their portion of $15,000, plus anything above the estimated $30,000 it will cost to “get [the water augmentation case] through” water court. Coe added that the new agreement uses the higher evaporation rate set by the state. She also explained, “We changed the way we are going to bill, based on the leased water we are going to release back to the river. Between that and using a higher evaporation rate, that caused a change of amount that each person was billed.” Coe said the district is “figuring out” what the permanent augmentation plan will look like, as it wants to keep the price of augmentation water as close as possible to what the pond owners were paying over the last five years. CSWD reserves the right to cancel the agreements if the district’s water rights are going to be negatively affected. CSWD will keep the pond owners informed so they can decide if they want to continue to move forward. A threshold cost amount of $20,000 was set, and once it is reached on the water case, the pond owners can decide if

they want to continue. If so, an additional investment from them will be placed into escrow. Chairman Art Pierce gave an update on the tap situation at the Wagon Wheel business, reporting that demolition may begin next week. Pierce, added that, on the three residential lots, physically there is only one water tap and one sewer tap. The owner wants to get her costs reduced, as the current rate for the property’s water is $80 per month for 3.8 EQRs. The board will discuss the rate as soon as the owner decides whether or not she wants to use the water or caps it off. “We bill because we make it available, not because [people] use it,” Pierce said of charging for taps. “[We are] working toward a common resolution.” The board agreed to bill for one sewer and water tap from December until the lines are capped off. Board member Jim Berg reported that a fire hydrant representative and a contractor visited on January 11 and, since the weather was too cold to actually test hydrants, had a conference about how they are made and common problems that arise with them. A kickoff meeting for stakeholders of the Cucharas Storage Collaborative was held on February 23. The meeting started the project, and, Berg advised, “It’s important we have someone there…someone who can speak for us.” Russell Keeling, who is currently most familiar with the CSWD water system, was chosen to attend with a board member.