Community help sought in revising #drought plan — The Pagosa Springs Sun

Swim class on the San Juan River. Photo: Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Chris Mannara):

The drought management plan for Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) will be going through some changes soon, and the PAWSD board is seeking input from a variety of community members on the plan’s trigger points.

In an email, PAWSD Manager Justin Ramsey explained that the drought management plan will have triggers that are based on river, lake and/or hydrologic data to encourage or require water use reductions.

Within the 2018 drought management plan, there are voluntary drought management water reductions that go all the way up to level four, or severe, drought management measures.

“It was based on the cumulative amount of water we had in the district, so how much water was in the river, how much water was in the lakes, including Hatcher,” Ramsey said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ramsey added that if totals were below a certain threshold, drought restrictions would occur per the 2018 drought management plan.

However, the basis for the 2018 drought management plan was determined to be “flawed,” Ramsey described.

“As you remember in 2018, we had somewhat of a drought. The river still flowed pretty good, but Hatcher really dropped,” he said. “I can have all the water in the world in the river; if I don’t have water in Hatcher, then we’re still screwed.”

In 2018, drought restrictions were not triggered until late October, Ramsey explained.

“But the lake got very low, and we don’t want that to happen again,” he said. “If we would have based it solely on the lake level, then we would have triggered it much earlier than October.”

The revised drought management plan will be “broken up” with various triggers, Ramsey explained, citing examples such as how much water is in Hatcher Lake, the water in the San Juan River and snow water equivalency, among other things.

“Any of those things could cause a trigger to occur. It’s not going to be a cumulative effect anymore. That’s what the major change is going to be,” he said, “instead of it being cumulative, we’re going to break out each of those little components and say if one of these happens, any of these components, we’re going into it.”

PAWSD is looking for input from people on both the environmental side and business side of the com- munity, Ramsey explained.

Anyone interested in serving on a committee to help with the revising of the plan can contact Ramsey at 731-7641 or justin@PAWSD.org.

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