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Cucharas plant passes state inspection

CUCHARA — At the August 8 meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District, General Manager Bob Northup spoke about the state inspection of the wastewater treatment plant. “We need to monitor the temperature and a few other things,” Northup said, adding that it passed inspection. “Water plants need a lot more work than other things. But everything is going smooth,” he said. Marshall Moore gave a report on the pond owner committee activities. He has been gathering information about the future of the valley’s augmented ponds, particularly the evaporation rate, and said he will need permission from the board to “get some money to get that moving forward.” Moore said he will go back to the pond owners and get their agreement to make a formal request to CSWD to go beyond the substitute water supply plan and find a permanent solution. Moore said the income to the district during a permanent augmentation plan would be about $450,000 over the next 50 years. It has already been said that the water right being used for the augmentation plan

would not be available after the district reaches 70% capacity on its other water rights and would need the water for domestic consumption. The pond owner committee request will be that the expenses to file a court case for a permanent plan be split between the pond owners and the water district, up to $15,000 each, although Jeris Danielson gave Moore an estimate of less than $20,000. Even if the evaporation rate changes, the district will continue to bill at the current rate. According to Northup, “We’re not billing by water volume. We’re billing by surface area of the pond. Evaporation rate is almost a moot point. Where evaporation rate comes into play is how much we have to return to the stream.” Chairman Art Pierce clarified, “We’re billing now at the lower rate that was originally proposed.” Regarding the cost, Moore said, “I don’t think there’s any complaint with the pond owners right now. Obviously they’d like to do it as cheap as possible.” He added, “It’ll save us money particularly to do a reservoir.” Moore also discussed the proposed South Baker Creek Reservoir and suggested the board hold an executive session to discuss the purchase and/or swap of assets to obtain the land from Bruce Cantrell. Moore recommended the district work with Jeris Danielson on a feasibility study for the reservoir and said he is beginning to build a coalition of people who can help “get this pushed through.” This includes Senator Scott Tipton and former Speaker of the House Lola Spradley, plus numerous other volunteers who are willing to help accomplish this goal. Moore described the proposed reservoir as an auxiliary water source in case the district loses its primary location on the Cucharas River. He also characterized it as a great drafting location for fire prevention for helicopters to draw water for fighting fire. Moore said he is hopeful that it will also be a recreational facility with public access. “It has all those positive effects,” said Moore. Pierce said, “It would give us a great raw water storage source.” But from the audience, Dave Barclay asked, “Are we expecting any objection from the state of Kansas on the Arkansas compact? Every time we’ve talked about water storage issues they immediately get interested because they’re recipients of the Arkansas River and the Huerfano River.” “That’s one of the hurdles we’ll have to cross,” Moore replied. “We have to secure our water right,” Northup said. A reservoir would make 65 million gallons of water available to use instead of allowing it to flow downstream. “It’s a workable deal,” said Moore. “The important thing is to keep moving forward,” Pierce said. There was a request from GMS engineers for a next payment on the water tank project, including a change order from Purgatoire Valley Construction for dealing with “dangerous rock” when moving the tank six feet. Director Jim VanLue said he would not approve the change order until he has more information about what exactly happened with the tank. The board voted four in favor and one against (Van Lue) to approve a payment of $4,750 and the change order in the amount of $2,256. Pierce told Northup, “Tell GMS that we’re disappointed that they don’t seem to be protecting our interests.” The board approved the district’s 2014-15 CORA policy, and it became available to the public at the conclusion of the meeting.