Two new board members from opposite ends of the water spectrum joined the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Thursday.
Dallas May, 58, a farmer and rancher from the Lamar area, and Mark Pifher, 65, a former director of Aurora water, were appointed to the board by 10th Judicial District Chief Judge Deborah Eyler and sworn in Thursday.
Eyler consults with district judges from the areas where appointments are made, because the Southeastern district covers a nine-county area. Terms are for four years.
May is a fourth-generation farmer who owns water shares on the Fort Lyon Canal, Amity Canal, Lower Arkansas Water Management Association and other ditches in the area. He replaces Leonard Pruett, who served one term on the board.
“I’ve been passive and always thought someone else would make the decision,” May said. “But given some of the controversial issues going on, I decided it was time to get involved.”
May said he is most concerned with protecting the water rights of those who choose to continue farming.
“My concern is that irrigation water does not depart the valley and leave it a wasteland,” May said.
He also would like to see the completion of the Arkansas Valley Conduit, the top priority project of the Southeastern district.
“It’s ironic and absurd that Rocky Mountain snowmelt flows past us and we have to buy bottled water,” May said, regarding the need for the conduit. “It’s absurd that people try to buy it and pipe it into another water basin.”
Pifher, 65, of Colorado Springs, replaces Harold Miskel on the board.
Miskel, a retired Colorado Springs Utilities executive, had served since 2002.
Pifher four years ago left Aurora water to work on the Southern Delivery System for Colorado Springs Utilities, retiring last year. He continues as a consultant on SDS and water quality issues. He is the former executive director of the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission.
His expertise on state water issues and additional time on his hands since his retirement led him to apply.
“I hope to continue the work already started by the district on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, the use of water resources and the opportunities for storage,” Pifher said. “I will give a municipal point of view to the board.”
Reappointed to the board were: Gibson Hazard of Colorado Springs, who has been on the board for 28 years; Kevin Karney, an Otero County rancher and commissioner, now in his eighth year; and Vera Ortegon of Pueblo, a former City Council and water board member, who has been on the board for 12 years.
Officers were elected as well. Bill Long of Las Animas is president; Gary Bostrom, Colorado Springs, vice president; Ortegon, secretary; and Ann Nichols, Manitou Springs, treasurer.