Editor’s note: There is apparently some confusion among the county’s populace as to how the water situation for Gardner and Paradise Acres relates to the current Huerfano County Water Conservation District’s (HCWCD) ballot proposal to increase our mill levy in order to ensure that water stays in Huerfano County for the use of Huerfano County residents, rather than being sold to Front Range metropolitan districts. In this week’s water installment, Amos Mace clarifies how water augmentation issues were resolved for Gardner and Paradise Acres, and why the HCWCD proposal is needed for all of Huerfano County.
by Amos Mace
HUERFANO — The Western Huerfano County Substitute Water Supply Plan has been functioning for three years. The Malachite Spring, Paradise Acres Subdivision, CO 61 Subdivision Water Supply, Huerfano County Road and Bridge Department and the unincorporated town of Gardner have been paying for and participating in the Substitute Water Supply Plan administered by the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District Water Activities Enterprise (HCWCD) to provide temporary augmentation water for their out-of-priority uses.
The state requires the Substitute Water Supply Plan be replaced by a permanent Water Augmentation Plan in the near future and steps have already begun in that direction. A permanent Water Augmentation Plan replacing the current Substitute Water Supply Plan in western Huerfano County is in development stages. The process of providing augmentation water for the out of priority users in western Huerfano is now well underway.
The Malachite Spring on Pass Creek Road west of Gardner has served as a place for the community and passersby to get water for more than three generations without interruption, and more than five generations in total. Families from all parts of Huerfano County have stopped by the spring to fill their tanks and jugs. Up until 2006, no legal paperwork was filed with the State of Colorado pertaining to the water rights associated with the Malachite Spring. Water continues to flow by the side of the road because the use of the Malachite Spring has been augmented through the current Western Huerfano County Substitute Water Supply Plan.
Many spring users and some individuals from outside of the county chip in financially to keep the water flowing, but long term plans to ensure the availability of water at that location are still in the works. The current plan relies on replacement water leased from Shell.
During the last three years as the drought has intensified in Huerfano County, a water company has come to town who has apparent intentions of moving water out of the county.
Hydrocarbon development has impacted, and continues, to threaten local water resources. The ever tightening administration of water by the Division of Water Resources has resulted in the realization that our county needs to be represented by a strong Huerfano County Water Conservancy District.
These issues will continue to impact our entire county— not just Gardner, not just Paradise Acres. A funded water conservancy district will be able to assist the other community government entities with water related issues as they continue to arise.
Community meetings have been held in Walsenburg, La Veta, and Gardner to explain why the residents of Huerfano County need to support the HCWCD. The simple reason is so that the HCWCD can support the county and its residents in return.