West La Plata County residents are one step closer to receiving water after the La Plata West Water Authority entered the final design phase of engineering this month on the construction of a pipeline that will carry water to property owners who either haul water or depend on low-quality wells.
La Plata West Water Authority partnered with the Southern Utes, Ute Mountain Utes and Lake Durango Water Authority to make the 4.6-mile pipeline from Lake Nighthorse to Lake Durango a reality.
“I’ve been involved with this project since 2004. Our motivation is strictly domestic water for the west side of the county. They have lived out there for 100 years and although there are some wells, there are a good number of people who have hauled water their entire lives,” said Roy Horvath, LPWWA president.
On Friday, pipeline was being buried near Wildcat Canyon Road (County Road 141) and County Road 210. It was part of phase zero construction, or getting the infrastructure in place to carry raw water from Lake Nighthorse to Lake Durango where it will be treated before being distributed to households.
“Lake Durango’s facilities give us a stepping stone so we do not have to take on the additional debt of constructing a treatment plant at this point in time,” Horvath said.
Phase zero is expected to be completed in the fall, Horvath said, and the pieces will be in place for a source of water for the $4.4 million-dollar phase one construction plan. Residents east of the La Plata River will be the first to receive water.
“It has taken us four years to get the funding lined up for phase one. At the end of March, we got a commitment letter from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency for $2.7 million. That gives us the basis for this project,” Horvath said.
An additional $1.1 million came from 144 property owners who are on a waiting list for a tap.
Horvath said taps cost $10,000 and residents using 3,000 gallons of water a month can expect a monthly fee of $135.
Signups are important to the future of the pipeline and there must be a minimum of 144 subscribers for phase one to proceed. The more households that sign up, the cheaper the monthly fee will be.
“We are offering people the opportunity to make a down payment of $3,000 and pay the rest in installments, rather than a lump sum of $10,000. The more people we get in the pool to help share the debt, the less they have to pay on a monthly basis,” Horvath said.
Twenty new signups will reduce the monthly cost by about $35, Horvath said, but the goal is to have 200 people committed.
Horvath said it has been hard to convince people that the pipeline is actually happening, but recent construction should be a motivator.
The deadline for signups is July 10 because information on tap numbers and locations needs to be sent to the USDA.
There will be a July 8 open house at Breen Community Building, 15300 Highway 140, where people can sign up for taps.
“This is the last window of opportunity for people to get in. In the future, it will be at a higher cost,” Horvath said.
If all goes according to plan, phase one construction could begin in the fall, and residents will start receiving water about a year after that, Horvath said.
Phase one is only the beginning of LPWWA’s long-range vision.
“We are looking at potentially serving the whole western side of the county one day, but it will take time,” Horvath said.