Durango voters agreed Tuesday to go in debt to the tune of $4 million to buy water from the Animas-La Plata Project.
The tally on Ballot Measure 2A, with all votes counted, showed that 1,972, or 61 percent, support the issue, compared with 1,274, 39 percent, who were opposed.
“We're very pleased and grateful that the community rallied behind the proposition,” City Manager Ron LeBlanc said Tuesday. “Generations to come will benefit from this action.”
LeBlanc said city staff members have processed the paperwork to seek a loan at a favorable rate.
“We'll finalize what we have to do to execute the agreement,” LeBlanc said.
The city is counting on borrowing money from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority at 1.95 percent. Over 20 years, the loan will cost almost $5 million.
City officials say additional water is needed to satisfy demand at peak periods and to prepare for population growth. In the short term, officials want to have more water available than the 60 million gallons they can store now – a seven-day supply. During peak season, daily use is 9.5 million gallons.
With the acquisition of 3,800 acre-feet of water from the Animas-La Plata Project, the city would have about 680 million gallons available. An acre-foot of water would cover a football field to a depth of 1 foot.
The Animas-La Plata Project, owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, provides water to three Native American tribes and nontribal partners in Colorado and New Mexico. The source of water is Lake Nighthorse, a reservoir southwest of Durango supplied by the Animas River.
The cost of 3,800 acre-feet of water is about $6.2 million. Durango paid $1 million in 2005 as earnest money. The investment helped pay up front for equipment at the A-LP plant that will be needed to access water from the project.
There also is $1.2 million available from a surplus in the city water fund. The remaining $4 million will be financed.
Debt service will be funded from water rates and plant investment fees charged to new development.