La Plata Water Authority West takes possession of Lake Nighthorse intake structure

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From The Durango Herald (Dale Rodebaugh):

Board members of the La Plata West Water Authority last week took possession of an intake structure at what will be Lake Nighthorse when a reservoir in Ridges Basin just west of Bodo Industrial Park is full. The lake is part of the Animas-La Plata Project, commonly known as A-LP, a Bureau of Reclamation project to provide drinking water for three Native American tribes and nontribal partners in Colorado and New Mexico.

While the authority is confident it has most of the $6 million cost of the intake lined up, it must start looking for $1.5 million to $2 million to buy the 700 acre-feet of water it wants from the water project. The water is owned by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority, which also holds 1,900 acre-feet of A-LP water earmarked for the city of Durango…

The intake consists of a vertical shaft and two pipelines perpendicular to it on what will be the northwest shore of Lake Nighthorse. The shaft is 120 feet deep and 17 feet in diameter. At right angles to it are two pipelines, each 3 feet in diameter, one 870 feet long that will draw water from 100 feet beneath the surface and one 152 feet long that will take water from 50 feet. The intake had to be finished before the level of water in Lake Nighthorse covered the location. The lake, which has a capacity of 120,000 acre-feet of water, is being filled by pumping water from the Animas River near Santa Rita Park.

When complete – at an estimated cost of $95 million – the system will bring water to as many as 3,600 dwellings in the unincorporated communities of Breen, Kline, Marvel and Redmesa, a 250-square-mile area straddling County Road 140. Area residents currently fill containers at a spring in Marvel or truck in water. The remainder of the project consists of a water-treatment plant, pump stations, storage tanks and about 40 miles of trunk lines that would carry water to County Road 140, then south to the New Mexico line, said Gene Bradley, a La Plata West board member. The number of miles of branch lines hasn’t yet been determined, he said. Two locations are being considered for the treatment plant – two miles north of the intake along realigned County Road 211 or at Blue Hill just south of the Shenandoah subdivision, Bradley said. Either way, water would be pumped to Blue Hill from where distribution would rely on gravity. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe will contribute $3 million and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe will contribute $1.5 million toward the cost of the $6 million intake. The tribes, which received $20 million each when the irrigation component of the A-LP was removed, must spend 75 percent of their “resource funds” on nontribal projects. Other than the Ute tribes, there is no sure funding for the distribution system, which is expected to be built piecemeal over a number of years, Bradley said. The authority board is looking for local, state and federal money, including stimulus funds, to complete the project, he said.

More Coyote Gulch Animas River coverage here and here.

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