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La Veta lifts water limits

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA- Quite a few La Veta residents had something to say about the town’s two-week old water restrictions Tuesday night during the town board meeting. Evelyn Zeller, of Lucy’s RV Park, addressed the lack of water and asked how much water the train has been allotted, to which Trustee Dave Molyneaux responded, “They have not taken one drop of water out of the town this year.” Zeller also asked how much water was used on the mud bog at the 4H grounds last weekend. Molyneaux replied, “That water came from the Walsenburg backflush reservoir.”
Another resident commented, “Going from having water to having no water is a little bit crazy . . . ” and reminded the board regarding the town’s web site, “The town minutes haven’t been updated since September last year.” He cited a Colorado Springs water restriction ordinance then referred to the draining of the north lake and asked, “How come there was no foresight?” Mayor Jerry Fitzgerald explained, “In large cities, water comes from storage. Ours doesn’t. Ours comes from the Cucharas River on a regular basis.” Fitzgerald explained that the north lake works like a settling pond and hasn’t been able to be refilled because there has been virtually no runoff, contrasting with the 72-year average. The drought has affected the south lake, especially through evaporation.
There were several pleas that trees in town are dying for lack of water over the past two weeks. The mayor reassured that some water can be taken from the town’s backflush pond for the tree board to water trees it has planted. Throughout the back and forth, the mayor patiently handled the comments, although most were from people who were not signed up to speak under town talk.
La Veta has had two major rain events plus other showers in the past two weeks, and Trustee Dale Davis mentioned this, offering a motion to lift the water restrictions. The board voted unanimously to do so. Molyneaux then cautioned that people should not go back to watering during the heat of the day and otherwise wasting water. “Just because we have water,” he said, “people want to live green.” He reported that water plant manager Rob Saint Peter is of the opinion, “We have enough water now to carry us through the end of the year.”
At one point in the water discussion, the conversation veered onto a tangent about the firefighters who stayed in La Veta during the East Peak Fire. There were accusations that the mayor had forced the firefighters to pitch their tents in “the hottest spot in the county,” the La Veta football field.
Oddly, the rumor around town involved the firefighters, when in actuality it was the National Guard who originally planned to bivouac in Town Park because they thought there was no other place. They chose the 4H barn complex when they realized they would have to move camp for Art in the Park on July 4-7 anyway.
Regardless of this fact, Ben Zeller told the mayor and the trustees, “Screw the 4th of July. It just was wrong.” The mayor reiterated, “We’re not talking about the firefighters; we’re talking about the National Guard.” Finally Trustee Dale Davis clarified, “The incident commander was the one who picked the football field. That’s why [the firefighters] camped down there.” Davis said the team needed a location that was out of the way of traffic and would be able to accommodate many vehicles coming and going. This seemed to surprise a number of people and put an end to the discussion.
Mary Jean Fowler got a round of applause after saying, “One thing that has been evident in this meeting is the rumors, hearsay and misunderstanding in town . . . we should be more careful to get information more directly from the source.”
Trustee Shane Clouse resurrected the topic of the Ryus Avenue bridge. The Board agreed to have Town Clerk Laurie Erwin contact CDOT and determine whether the $280,000 grant approved for the town in 2009 is still available.
If it proceeds, the bridge project would happen in 2014. Trustee Bill Stark confirmed, “If we don’t act by next year, the funds will be forfeited.” Clouse said he has a preliminary sketch from an engineer for a two-lane bridge, and Davis assured, “The state is going to oversee it, because this is state money.”
There is an agreement for non-potable water use by the schools, and Davis reported that this usage hasn’t been paid for since 2009 because the meter was not read. The town recently billed the school for five years of use in the amount of $1,044. Davis asked that the debt be forgiven, the meter be read and water charges be billed regularly from now on. The board agreed.
Erwin reported that every city and town in Colorado must have a marijuana ordinance in effect by October 1. She said, “You can either allow it, don’t allow it, or place a moratorium on it.” She added, “You cannot ban homegrown. It’s their constitutional right.”
Initially Stark proposed a six-month moratorium because of unknown enforcement costs, but the board ended up setting a workshop on the topic for July 23 at 4:30.