Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

Boss Lake
Boss Lake

From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Addressing issues with a leaky Boss Lake dam in southwestern Chaffee County could cost as much as $2 million.

Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, estimated the cost at $1.5-2 million during the Thursday district board of directors meeting.

Scanga said an environmental impact statement would need to be prepared in order to construct a road across national forest land to get equipment into the site.
Confronted with the cost of dam repairs and the cost of an environmental impact statement, Scanga would not recommend moving forward with repair work, saying the lake has “limited utility for the district’s uses.”

During the Upper Ark district’s March 2014 meeting, district officials mentioned the possibility that the dam could be breached.

Scanga said he was hopeful the state would take over the reservoir and fund the necessary repairs so Boss Lake could be used to help re-establish endangered greenback cutthroat trout, the Colorado state fish.

The Upper Ark district stores water in Boss Lake and manages the reservoir pursuant to a 1982 agreement with Chaffee County.

When the state built Boss Lake, it encompassed the Donnell 1 and 2 reservoirs, and the Donnell water rights include a storage right in what is now Boss Lake.
Salco Associates, essentially Wanda and Jim Treat and family, own the Donnell water rights, allowing the Treats to store water in Boss Lake.

In spite of efforts to engage Salco regarding dam repairs, Scanga said the district had received “no response” since the family attended the March 2014 district board meeting to protest maintenance charges billed by the district.

The board meeting also included:

  • A review of the 2016 district and enterprise budgets with the budget hearing set for 2 p.m. Nov. 12.
  • A presentation entitled “Fry-Ark Project and Current Project Storage” by Roy Vaughan, Pueblo Reservoir facility manager, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
  • District hydrologist Jord Gertson’s water storage, precipitation and streamflow reports, showing full reservoirs and an above-average precipitation outlook for southern Colorado.
  • A progress report from the Upper Arkansas Multi-Use Project Committee indicating the project has gained positive attention from various elements in the water community.
  • A report from Director Greg Felt regarding a Multi-Use Project field trip attended by eight legislators.
  • A Thompson Ditch report from engineer Chris Manera indicating no substantial change in water levels due to groundwater infiltration following a wetter than average summer.
  • An update on planning activities for the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum, slated for April 27-28 at Salida SteamPlant.
  • Presentation of the 2016 conservancy district budget.
  • A legislative update from consultant Ken Baker.
  • A legal report updating board members on district applications and oppositions.
  • A treasurer’s report.
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