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Water conservancy district makes progress on projects

WALSENBURG — At the September 15 meeting of the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, board member Al Garcia reported that he met with the engineering companies interested in construction of the Red Wing Augmentation Facility for a site visit. He said, “I think we’ll have at least a couple bids on that.” According to Garcia, work on the district’s “camp” ranch is on schedule, and construction on a fence and improvements to the house on the ranch will begin on Wednesday. He also stated the recharge pond is working well. Garcia said, “We’re close to being able to shut it down.” Wells have been put in, and according to Garcia, those wells demonstrate that the water in the recharge pond is seven feet higher than in the dry up area. “We should be able to make engineering happy about that,” Garcia said. He also said that the Red Wing facility would “take a lot of stress off the recharge pond.” The district is also close to finalizing a ditch user’s agreement with Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Wardell. The district’s 1041 application for its regional augmentation plan has

been accepted by the County as substantially complete, and a public hearing has been set for October 28. “It’s coming right along,” said board member Beaver Edmundson. County commissioner Ray Garcia updated everyone on the Gardner water station. He says they hope to get the underground facilities in place by the end of the week, followed by electric hookup. People will be able to pre-purchase their water through an account they will have with the county. “Right now it looks like three cents per gallon,” said Garcia. He added that he hopes the entire process will be finished by the end of October. Because the water station will be a new use in Gardner, director Sandy White said, “We will have to make a revision to our SWSP.” Water commissioner Doug Brgoch reported on the county’s two rivers. According to Brgoch, the call on the Huerfano River is #13, and the call on the Cucharas is at #3, which takes most of the river. “About the same place we are every year with a dry fall,” he said. He also said the state extended a partial offer to an applicant for Huerfano River Water Commissioner recently. “Hopefully we’ll have someone on October first,” he added. Rachel Zancanella of the division of water resources reported that loosening of marijuana growing laws in Colorado is causing more people to come to Colorado to try and grow it. “A lot of people are coming in, buying land and then trying to figure out the water,” she said. She explained that water rights, augmentation and irrigation laws are confusing to people attempting to start up marijuana growing facilities. She said the SWSP is a good setup for the entities that belong to it, but each additional participant brings its own requirement to amend the SWSP. HCWCD has been approached by individuals interested in starting marijuana grow operations because they realize they need augmentation water. Zancanella assured that the State is trying to develop guidelines for planning and zoning commissions to handle these new issues. The district will be filing a renewal application for its SWSP by October 1, and it needs all parties not currently customers who are interested in augmentation water to notify its engineer, John Faux with TZA Water Engineers, of their desire to participate in the SWSP by September 22.