Water witching was once a respected profession in La Plata County, and perhaps it still is.
Former County Commissioner R.T. Scott operated a construction company and had a way with a divining stick, and was glad to be called on to suggest the location of a domestic water well.
But with the results of a possible comprehensive groundwater study, La Plata County residents who want to know if water is near their building site will have a little more science in their favor.
La Plata County’s geology is a mixed bag. There are limited aquifers, but many certain and uncertain underground waterways.
The extreme western portion of the county has no accessible water. If it is down there, it is deep. And the southeastern portion of the county has reachable water, but it is of poor quality.
That was the impetus behind the creation of the La Plata-Archuleta Water District which is laying lines west and south from a water treatment plant it will share with the town of Bayfield.
On the Florida Mesa, with the addition of efficient sprinklers to replace previously flood-irrigated hay and grain fields, some replenishment of those waterways is certain to be lost.
For someone wanting to build a home in the county, or several homes, there can be uncertainty in many locations about the availability of water. And existing home owners do not want to be surprised by wells weakened by ones drilled for new neighbors. When the county planning department says “yes” to new construction, everyone involved wants to be as certain as can be that water is there.
A request for $50,000 for the comprehensive study will be on the June agenda of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. If approved, the funds will be matched with an equal amount from the Colorado Geological Society.
With the results, after an estimated two years of work, everyone will have a much better idea as to where, and how much, growth can take place. Not precisely, of course, but with much more certainty than we have today.
We hope the funding comes through.