San Juan Water Conservancy District discusses budget and public access along the #SanJuanRiver — The #PagosaSprings Sun

Click the link to read the article on the Pagosa Springs Sun website (Derek Kutzer). Here’s an excerpt:

On Thursday, Dec. 14, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) held a meeting where it conducted a public hearing and discussed its 2023 budget and discussed the possibility of a public take-out point along the San Juan River, among other items.

Engineering/Studies/Surveys appeared as the largest line-item expenditure in the proposed 2023 budget, amounting to $45,000. And since the board did not entertain reducing this item, it will “pull $20,000 out of sasvings” to pay for it and also maintain a zero deficit, explained Tedder.

Public access to the San Juan River

At the same meeting, the board heard about efforts to have public access to the river on land owned by the SJWCD and Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD). [Al] Pfister, and possibly a representative from PAWSD, will be sitting down with representatives from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW ), mainly to discuss fishery issues and potential funding, according to Pfister.

“This is basically being done under the watershed enhancement project,” Pfister said.

San Juan Mountains December 19, 2016. Photo credit: Allen Best

The San Juan Water Conservancy District presents #SanJuanRiver #water supply and demand analysis to public — The #PagosaSprings Sun

San Juan Mountains December 19, 2016. Photo credit: Allen Best

Click the link to read the article on the Pagosa Springs Sun website (Dorothy Elder). Here’s an excerpt:

The study’s first task was to identify municipal demand, and in doing so, the analysis provided population projection ranges for Archuleta County. Using a variety of sources, the ranges project that, in 2050, the population could be at 16,623 (low), 21,652 (medium) or 24,979 (high). In 2050, these ranges put municipal water demand at 4,208 acre-feet (low), 5,481 acre-feet (medium) or 6,323 acre-feet, calculated using a constant of 226 gallons per capita per day, which reflects the current demand.

[Wilson Water Group] also calculated demand needs in agriculture, environmental and recreation, using a variety of sources and data. Cumulatively, all of these demands (including municipal needs) were used to calculate different shortage scenarios and, ultimately, explore solutions for meeting these potential shortages. This included calculating potential reservoir sizes, which was met with contention at the event. The limiting factors in reservoir sizing are the legally and physically available water to fill the reservoir, the 50 cubic feet per second (cfs) filling constraint, and the demands driving reservoir releases, the analysis explains. The 50 cfs limit is based on the Dry Gulch Reservoir water right, and that the Dry Gulch environmental flow stipulations had to be met when the reservoir was filling, [Erin] Wilson explained…The recommendations for the reservoir size were 1,600 acre- feet to meet low demand and 10,000 acre-feet to meet mid-range demand. Wilson clarified these calculations are usable volume numbers, not the total volume of the reservoir…

Other highlights of the report include:

• Municipal water demands could more than double if the pace of population growth in Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District’s area continues at current rates.

• Under historical climate conditions, agricultural demands are not expected to increase and may actually decrease due to urbanization.

• The two largest concerns affecting current and future water uses are earlier runoff and the potential for a catastrophic fire. Having storage to help capture earlier runoff could continue to be important in the future, and additional storage could provide redundancy and help mitigate the effects of a fire.

• Other alternatives, including stream restoration, fallowing and forest health, have the potential to improve streamflow and the SJWCD should continue to monitor on-going projects to see how the results could be applicable in the Upper San Juan Basin.

The public comment period is open until Aug. 31. Comments can be sent to comment.sjwcd@

A decision about #LakeNighthorse #water release could come later this week — The Farmington Daily Times #AnimasRiver

Lake Nighthorse in the Ridges Basin in La Plata County, Colorado. The view is from the overlook on County Road 210. By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

From The Farmington Daily Times (Hannah Grover):

The San Juan Water Commission continues to monitor conditions around the Animas River, including flow and snowpack, to decide if it will request a release from Lake Nighthorse this month.

San Juan Water Commission Director Aaron Chavez said the decision will likely be made later this week…

The City of Farmington initially requested a possible release from the reservoir as a way to test the water delivery from Lake Nighthorse to entities in San Juan County. The City of Aztec has expressed interest in also taking some of the water released if it does occur…

The release depends on the water levels in the river remaining low because the test release will be a way to gather data for a drought scenario…

A test release could help provide data about water loss as the water would flow down the Animas River channel. Because the irrigation ditches are closed for the winter, it would also provide data about water flow and downstream recovery in the river without any of that water being diverted for agriculture.

On the morning of March 8, the Animas River was flowing at 138 cubic feet per second in the Cedar Hill area near the state line, according to the U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge. A stream gauge in Farmington was registering 175 cubic feet per second. These readings are about half of what would typically be seen on the Animas River in a normal year.

San Juan Water Conservancy District approves strategic plan — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

San Juan River Basin. Graphic credit Wikipedia.

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Chris Mannara):

The San Juan Water Conser- vancy District (SJWCD) approved its strategic plan for 2021 at a meeting on Feb. 15.

The strategic plan, which had been in development since 2018, is to be used to help the district identify water resource issues in the Upper San Juan River Basin within the district’s geographical scope, according to the plan.

Additionally, the plan outlines that its purpose is to help the district evaluate its options for addressing water resource issues and outlining which options could be acted upon.

Other objectives include the SJWCD Board of Directors developing long-term goals and direction for the district and relaying that information to the public, the plan notes.

Mission and value statements

Included within the plan is the SJWCD’s mission statement, which reads “To be an active leader in all issues affecting the water resources of the Upper San Juan River Basin.”


These statements note that the SJWCD board is “committed to ensuring that various current and future water supply needs are met through whatever conservation and water management strategies and methodologies are available.”

Another value statement reads, “The Board opposes any new transfers of water from the Upper San Juan River and its tributaries upstream of Navajo Reservoir to basins outside of the Upper San Juan River Basin.”

The opposition toward this comes from the SJWCD believing that transfers would interfere with existing beneficial uses of water, damage to economic stability and reduced environmental quality, the plan indicates.

Other value statements include that the SJWCD board is commit- ted to managing water rights it holds, supporting wise land-use policies and processes, and man- aging and funding effective monitoring, protection and restoration programs.

One value statement notes that the SJWCD board believes that the district must participate in statewide processes, like the Colorado Water Plan, to address various issues such as climate change, drought and water shortages.

The San Juan Water Conservancy District Invites Public Participation in Budget Decision — The Pagosa Daily Post #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

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

From the San Juan Water Conservancy District (Al Pfister) via the The Pagosa Daily Post:

As is custom and per State procedures, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) is in the process of developing our 2021 budget.

Our draft 2021 budget sets the framework for our activities in the coming year. In an effort to better communicate with our district taxpayers as to how we can provide the appropriate amounts of water under wet and drought conditions, we are inviting you to a public meeting and hearing on November 16, 2020 at 5:00pm via ZOOM to discuss our proposed 2021 budget.

We have developed our proposed 2021 budget to be used to set the framework for activities that we will implement in the accomplishment of our mission. Our mission is to ensure water resources are available for beneficial use to those who do provide water (such as the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District) for the community. This may come in the form of consumptive uses like agriculture, municipal, fire protection, and industrial pursuits. This may also mean non-consumptive uses such as recreational, wildlife habitat, and aesthetics.

Our main focus with the 2021 budget will be implementation of our Strategic Plan that will deal with the challenge of serving the water needs of the majority of Archuleta County. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you on November 16. If you would like more information or want to discuss the budget and associated issues, please contact me or any board member whose contact info is listed on our website — — under the “About Us” tab. The website also has the draft 2021 budget, our draft Strategic Plan, the meeting agenda, and the ZOOM information.

Accomplishment of our mission must take place in accordance with Colorado water law (including the prior appropriation doctrine), and following the direction set forth in the Colorado State Water Plan.

The Colorado Water Plan (Plan) was completed in 2015 and is based on three foundational elements: interstate compacts and equitable apportionment decrees (ie. each of the States are entitled to a certain amount of water as detailed in the respective compacts), Colorado water law, and local control. The Plan is the result of several years of statewide collaborative efforts and discussions about how the water needs of Colorado residents and downstream users will be met. “It sets forth the measurable objectives, goals, and actions by which Colorado will address its projected future water needs and measure its progress- all built on our shared values”. As a headwaters state we need to be actively involved in ensuring our water needs and rights are met, while also complying with interstate compacts.

The San Juan River, and its tributaries, contribute water needed to comply with local water rights user’s needs, as well as several interstate compacts (Colorado River Compact 1922, Rio Grande River Compact 1938, Upper Colorado River Compact 1948, others). Admittedly, how all these water rights needs are met is a very complex and confusing scenario, under which SJWCD is charged with accomplishing our mission under State statute. Nonetheless, the Water District is responsible for ensuring the conditional water rights owned by the District taxpayers are utilized to meet our shared water needs. In order for the District to better understand how the District’s taxpayers want that to happen, we need your input.

We hope to finalize our Strategic Plan that outlines our implementation of the statewide Plan in the next couple months.

Al Pfister is Board President for the San Juan Water Conservancy District.

San Juan Water Conservancy District wants a 1 mill increase for the San Juan River Headwaters Project

Graphic credit Wikipedia.

From The Pagosa Springs Sun (Marshall Dunham):

The ballot question seeks to raise the district’s mill levy to 1 mill for 30 years and allow the district’s debt be increased by $2 million with a maximum repayment of $2,885,803.80 for the purposes of acquiring additional land for its reservoir project…

Holsinger was the first to speak, explaining that he serves as legal counsel to the SJWCD.

“Water is Colorado’s most precious natural resource,” then explaining that water storage has “transformed the West.”

He also noted the agreement among experts that water storage is vital and reported that the demand for water continues to grow, with Archuleta County’s population projected to more than double in the next 30 years.

“Conservation alone doesn’t cut it,” he said, also suggesting that the project could become a “crown jewel” in the state park system.