The La Plata West Water Authority is an independent political subdivision created by the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District and the La Plata Water Conservancy District. The Authority will continue a long history of work to provide a domestic water supply in rural southwest La Plata County. Many area residents have worked on this project as part of the ALP project in since the 1940s. Federal government and local water districts have also been contributing to the effort for decades.
The Authority contracted with EPC Corporation to design and build the intake structure. The design stage was completed in November 2008 and construction began in early December of 2008 and was completed in July of 2009 prior to water rising to the lower portal. The intake structure is critical to providing access to the ALP water supply.
The Authority has worked closely with the Bureau of Reclamation and other government agencies to ensure that the project was appropriately reviewed and complies with all appurtenant regulations. The rural water system was evaluated as a viable use of ALP waters in the Animas La Plata Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. The intake structure project was issued all necessary permits and environmental approvals prior to construction on BOR land.
Funding for the $6 million intake structure has been provided from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe, the Colorado Water Conservation Board State Roundtable and Southwest Basin Roundtable, the Southwest Water Conservation District, and the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District. The Tribes requested and obtained monies from their Resource Funds for the project. These Funds were appropriated for the Tribes as part of the Colorado Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement Act Amendments of 2000, and are designated for use in partnership with non-Tribal entities in the area. The Colorado Water Resource and Power Development Authority has assisted the Authority by providing a bridge loan, which was repaid when the Resource Funds were released.
A secondary project to construct a raw water delivery system to carry ALP project allocation water beyond the intake structure was completed in February of 2019. This infrastructure includes a 30” ductile iron pipe from the intake structure to the booster station site just south of CR 210, then reduces to 16” pipe to the intersection of CR 125 and CR 141. From that point, an 8” pipeline continues to Lake Durango, providing the La Plata West Water Authority and Lake Durango Water Authority ability to utilize ALP project allocation water being purchased in incremental amounts from the Animas La Plata Water Conservancy District. Lake Durango water Authority provided about $2.8 million for this project along with $1 million each from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe. LPWWA received a $500,000 grant from the State and Regional roundtable to upsize the middle section of pipeline from 8” to 16”.
With initial subscription fees of about $1.16 million paid by about 150 property owners and a USDA Rural Development Loan of $2.74 million and grants totaling $1.21 million, construction on the initial phase of a distribution system began in November of 2018. After a pre-Christmas shutdown and a strong winter, construction resumed in April of 2019. Final completion of about 32 miles of pipeline to serve the initial phase is anticipated to be complete at the end of January of 2020, with service to begin in late 2019. An agreement with Lake Durango Water Authority to provide water for roughly the first 400 LPWWA subscribers is being finalized.
Future expansion of the distribution system will include construction of a treatment plant at an appropriate time, along with extensions of the system into other portions of the service area that encompasses most of Southwest La Plata County. An office and potential water dock location are anticipated north of Kline and a general manager for the Authority has was hired in early June of 2019.
The Authority extends its gratitude to the funding partners. The participation of the Ute Tribes has made this project possible. Additionally, many individuals have worked diligently to make this project a reality.
Moving forward to the next phase of the project, the LPWWA will continue working with the Tribes, BOR, La Plata County and engage the public, particularly area residents, to develop the scope and the design for the water