Officials with the La Plata Archuleta Water District soon will have a detailed plan to show the public in their effort to establish a rural water system in areas of southeast La Plata County where residents depend on wells or trucked-in water.
The plan will specify where the district proposes to get its water and locations for treatment facilities and pipelines.
In August, voters narrowly approved creation of the district. It will have to go back to voters for approval of a mill levy to fund the system. The soonest an election could take place is November.
Dick Lunceford, president of district's board, appeared before La Plata County commissioners during their regular meeting Tuesday to give them an update.
Water for the project could come from the Pine, Piedra or Animas rivers. The master plan will identify a preferred source and a backup, Lunceford said.
Given the close results of August's election - a margin of just more than 30 votes - officials realize the importance of selling the plan to potential users, who may be worried about increased taxes, sprawl and traffic.
"We see our main task going forward as educating the public," Lunceford said.
He said a series of public meetings on the project would begin in March and continue for several months ahead of a November election.
"We're getting closer," said Steve Harris of Harris Water Engineering.
Commissioner Wally White asked about district officials' efforts to secure rights of way from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for pipelines.
Lunceford said they were waiting until they had a concrete plan to take to the tribe. He said the system could serve residents on the reservation at some point.
"I think there's every opportunity to collaborate and go into a win-win situation with the tribe," he said.
The southwest corner of Archuleta County, though in the district's service area, would be served at a later date, and residents there did not vote in August's election.
Excluded from the district are areas that now receive or in the future will get municipal water services; federal, state and Southern Ute Indian Tribe holdings; and the property of gas companies and individuals who opted out of the district.
BP, the county's biggest producer, was the only gas company not to remove itself from the district and will represent the biggest chunk of its tax base.
Additional information will soon be available on the district's Web site at www.laplawd.org.