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Water woes continue to haunt Aguilar as new town board sworn in

by Bill Knowles
AGUILAR — Since 2004, the Town of Aguilar has worked at satisfying Colorado water law and came so close in December 2021 when the USDA announced that the town was the recipient of a $5.8 million loan and grant that would allow the town to build a reservoir for water storage and develop a plan for augmentation.

The need for additional funding came to light when Keith Waller – during the April 21, 2022, regular meeting – questioned then outgoing town mayor Mark Piano about the USDA loan and grant. The town still needs to raise another $3.1 million in internal financing for the loan before the USDA releases the funds.

In late December of 2014, the Town of Aguilar negotiated a consent decree with Division 2 in water courts. The town needed to submit a plan for augmentation, including plans for a reservoir to be used for water storage, according to then Division 2 Water Engineer Steve Witte.

The loan application was submitted to a bank in Denver in January 2022, and the town is still waiting to hear if the loan has been approved. The consent decree called for the financing applications to be submitted by January 2016 to the Division 2 water engineer’s office. That deadline was missed.

And now the state is stepping in.

“In the meantime, we’re under curtailment. The state is shutting down our water,” Waller said.
“They gave us a temporary gate that they shut down by the end of April,” Piano said.
The town still doesn’t have a source of augmentation water and they’ve overrun their consumptive use on the water they have access to.

The heated discussion highlighted, with the state the two decades into drought and looking at the possibility of a record setting year for wildfires, that water is in short supply as demand increases.

The second meeting
The second meeting saw the new town board, elected on April 5, 2022, during a municipal election, sworn in by Tyra Avila the town clerk and administrator.

The new board of trustees, from left to right; Joseph Mark Piano, Vernon Thorn, Joseph Porras, Gerald Baudino- Mayor Pro Tem, and Donald Gonzales- Mayor. One open seat still exists on the board due to the resignation of Trustee David Gulley. Photo by Bill Knowles.

Following the swearing in the mayor pro tem was selected. The board elected Gerald Baudino, who is serving his second term and is the current mayor pro tem, for the position.

The new board trustees are Joseph Mark Piano, Vernon Thorn, Joseph Porras, Gerald Baudino Mayor Pro Tem, and Donald Gonzales Mayor.
David Gulley, who has s

erved one term on the board and was re-elected to a second term, at the end of the second meeting resigned. He stated that the decision involved personal issues and that he just couldn’t continue to serve. Thanking the crowd for their votes, he left the community center where the meeting was being held.