HUERFANO- In 1987 a flood event filled the Cucharas Reservoir east of Walsenburg to overflowing. It was obvious that it was leaking badly and might breech. The Strohs helped notify the Water Commissioner, Division 2 Water Engineer, and a core of engineers who mustered the resources necessary to avert a breech. From that time forward, a restriction has been in place that only 10,000 acre feet of water can be stored in the reservoir. There have been years when the headgates have not even been closed and the water has run right through. Farmers have been demoralized and have not had the money to repair the reservoir or even keep their irrigation ditches in repair.
In the last few years, the Office of the State Engineer had set a deadline: If no progress had been made to repair the dam by October 2010, the dam must be breeched and all opportunity for restoration would be lost.
However, through the efforts of local farmers and the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Company (HCIC), investors have been found who believe in and want to revitalize local agriculture. The Two Rivers Water Company hopes to break ground in July and begin repair of the Cucharas Reservoir.
Two Rivers Water Company, through its 50% owned joint venture HCIC Holdings LLC, has completed the purchase of 55% of the outstanding shares of the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Company (HCIC), in Southern Colorado. Additionally, the company has entered into separate agreements to purchase an additional 35% interest, to bring its total ownership of HCIC to 90% by April 2010.
"Acquisition of a majority interest in the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Company, gives Two Rivers Water Company the opportunity to now move forward in the repair of the Cucharas Dam and Reservoir, which is one of Colorado′s largest on stream reservoirs," commented John McKowen, Chairman and CEO of Two Rivers Water Company. "The Cucharas Reservoir, when restored, has 55,000 acre feet of storage capacity, which can be rebuilt for less than $375 an acre foot, compared to a current cost of construction of over $3,000 an acre foot for other large capacity reservoirs."
Two Rivers Water Company has begun engineering plans, and commenced discussions with the Colorado State Engineers Office necessary to hopefully complete the restoration of the dam by spring of 2011, in time for the late spring snow melt. By restoring the Cucharas Reservoir, the company can supply the farmers and communities of Huerfano and Pueblo Counties with a new large, dependable source of water supply and storage.
Two Rivers Water Company has also purchased approximately 1,000 acres and entered into agreements to purchase 3,500 additional acres of farmland. The company expects to purchase as much as 15,000 acres of farmland and reintroduce water on the land and restore the HCIC ditches to what was once a thriving high yield farming community. Two Rivers Water Company has agreed to provide the current farmers on the HCIC ditch with long term water contracts to enable them to continue and expand their farming operations. Additional surplus of storage capacity will exist once the Cucharas Reservoir is restored beyond the expanded farming needs projected by Two Rivers Water Company.
Two Rivers Water Company has begun preliminary discussions with various water agencies to explore possibilities whereby the excess capacity of the HCIC system can be developed and assist in covering the projected shortfalls in Colorado′s water needs.
Two Rivers Water Company, which was formed in December 2002, is focused on acquiring and developing water resources in Colorado.