A new pipeline could bring Durango residents closer to receiving drinking water from Lake Nighthorse.
The city and La Plata-Archuleta Water District will likely split the cost of a new $200,000 pipeline that would allow the city, the water district and others to access water in the reservoir, City Manager Ron LeBlanc said.
“In my mind, it’s a no-brainer to collaborate on this,” Mayor Dick White said at a meeting Tuesday.
The pipeline is planned to serve a new Ridges Basin Water Treatment Plant, estimated to cost $55 million, that the city and the water district plan to build.
The city set aside money for the 42-inch-wide pipeline in the 2018 budget, but construction may not start this year, because agreements have not yet been signed. It is possible construction of the pipeline could start in 2019, said Ed Tolen, general manager for La Plata-Archuleta Water District.
Before work starts, the city and the water district must sign agreements that would likely outline the city’s eastern water service boundary, LeBlanc said. The water district, which serves southeastern La Plata County, expects to serve rural customers outside the city’s service area.
Agreements also must be signed by organizations and tribes that own water in the lake, as well as the association that operates the lake, Tolen said. Those organizations and tribes could one day tie into the new pipeline.
A licensing agreement to build the pipeline must also be reached with the Bureau of Reclamation, Tolen said.
The 200-foot-long pipe is part of groundwork that must be laid before a new water treatment plant can be built.
The city must study at what elevation the plant should be located and then determine an appropriate site for the plant, LeBlanc said. At the right elevation, water would flow by gravity through the plant and could make operation of the plant cheaper, he said.
Capacity of the new plant would likely match capacity at the existing plant, which would build redundancy into the city’s water system. Building a second plant with the same capacity as the existing facility also allows the city to make repairs to the older plant while meeting city water demands, LeBlanc said.
Voters must approve any debt the city would take on as part of building the new plant. The city’s portion of the plant would be paid for through water fees.