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HC Water District receives grant approval for Cucharas collaborative storage study

HUERFANO COUNTY — On September 23, the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District received approval from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a grant totaling $250,000 to conduct a study of the storage needs for the Cucharas Basin. The current study is just one of 13 storage projects that are within the basin and are on the Arkansas Basin Improvement Project’s master needs list. Such projects are necessitated by the aged nature of existing storage infrastructure, 83 percent of which were built before the end of World War II. About 71 percent of all storage capacity has been lost due to abandonment or restriction. Funding for the grant has come from the basin and state-wide accounts, as well as from the Huerfano County Water Conservancy Board, the Huerfano County Board of County Commissioners, the Cucharas Water and Sanitation District Board, and the towns of La Veta, and Walsenburg. The water district has also applied for a second grant for gauging and administration modeling improvements along the Cucharas and Huerfano rivers. The purpose of the grant is to develop reliable infrastructure and technical data that

can be used to provide help to arrive at difficult water administration decisions. The data can also be used to convey the reasons for decisions to water users impacted by those decisions in a clear, fact based manner. The district has not heard if the application has been approved. The two items in the gauging grant that will cost most are the stream gauge evaluation involving an inventory, assessment, and designing of gauge sites, and the construction of new gauges and improvements to gauges currently in use. Other costs include ground water monitoring, the development of administrative models, and project management. Following an executive session, the board approved signing a lease agreement with Sheep Mountain Ranch for an easement to possibly build an extra storage pond. The district’s attorney is still looking at the agreement at the time of the writing of this report. The Huerfano County Water Conservancy District adjourned after the executive session.