CUCHARA — The purification process at the Cuchara water plant is taking longer than usual because the river water is so dirty lately, according to General Manager Bob Northup in his report to the board of Cucharas Sanitation and Water District at its May 8 meeting. The state health department visited CSWD on April 29 to evaluate the water plant’s chlorine contact time. “Hopefully we won’t have to do any measure modifications. We monitor the chlorine constantly,” Northup said. The waste water plant (WWP) is being evaluated for a mixing zone study to see how the effluent mixes with the creek. On the water plant project, all that needs to be done is seeding, and gravel will be placed in front of the plant to reduce erosion. “It’s been a quagmire all winter,” Northup said. Reportedly the road compaction test passed with flying colors, and the road will be graded. “As far as our part, we’re done,” he said. Northup reported for the Pond Owner Committee. The district’s water lawyer has developed various scenarios for the board to discuss. Jeris Danielson is working on setting an evaporation rate for the valley’s ponds and is “on board” with the pond owners. CSWD has until June 2016 to come up with a permanent
augmentation plan, and it may take a few years to get through water court. “That’s where we’re working right now. Our people are moving on it,” Northup said. Board chairman Art Pierce expressed his concern over lack of involvement from the pond owners themselves. Regarding the potential South Baker Creek reservoir, the acquisition of property is at a standstill. According to treasurer Jim Berg, the project could go through the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. He and board member Gerald Van Nort attended a meeting on April 20, during which storage projects for the Cucharas basin were discussed. “The only way we’re going to get help is by collaboration,” Berg said. At that meeting, a Cucharas Storage Collaborative was formed, which will study potential reservoir projects on the Cucharas River. There are currently many reservoirs in the basin that need to be evaluated, and Berg said, “It’s a sad state of affairs for them.” There is reportedly a reservoir in Huerfano County with a state breach order, and Northup suggested the possibility of buying its storage rights if they come up for sale. Pierce agreed, and suggested the district could work with La Veta or Walsenburg to get storage rights. “It’s just a matter of making it all work together,” Pierce said. The board voted to formally join the Cucharas River Storage Collaborative and announce its intent to make a one-time $5,000 donation to a storage study, although official budget action will have to wait until December. The board members are going to get more involved in specific activities in the district. A workshop may be held or members might simply choose areas to focus on. “It’s critical that we have established responsibilities,” said Berg. He said board members “need to stay engaged.” Pierce discussed the need for repairs in the district’s office building and the WWP building, including both roofs and the office windows. Administrative assistant Jennette Coe got quotes for the windows last year and budgeted for office building repairs. “There’s hidden damage going on that’s going to bite us one of these days,” Northup said.