Pulling water from the Animas-La Plata Project and Los Pinos River at Bayfield emerged as top options Monday night when the La Plata Archuleta Water District met at the Oxford Grange.
The meeting was held to present and receive comments on the district's tentative master plan for a rural water system, which will serve southeastern La Plata County and eventually adjoining areas of Archuleta County. "We are hoping on pursuing water from (the Animas La Plata Project and Los Pinos at Bayfield), but you never know what is going to work until it is done," said Steve Harris, engineering consultant for the water district. Before that happens, the district will have to attain rights to the area, Harris said.
"You know, I wouldn't have recommended it if I didn't think it was a for-sure shot," he said.
The two water options the district intends to pursue have a good price for the 2,300 acre-feet the district hopes to pump to the area, and the locations are at the highest spots relative to where the water will be pumped, Harris said.
"These really are the two best options for the plan," he said.
The plan will serve La Plata County and, eventually, Archuleta County, district spokeswoman Ann McCoy Harold said.
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, she said.
A rural water system in the area has been discussed for nearly 20 years, and the plan finally is coming together, said Dick Lunceford, the district's chairman.
He said the board wants as much input as possible so the group can finalize the master plan for the next 50 years in July.
"We (also) are hoping to decide to go for the mill levy in November, so we can implement this in 2010," he said.
The district predicts the project will cost about $85 million and take about three years to complete, Lunceford said, and will be paid for by the mill levy.
Norm Sharp, who owns 35 acres near County Road 515, east of Oxford, said he can't wait for the plans to be set into motion.
"This has been a long time coming," he said.
Residents of the area hauled in more than 5 million gallons of drinking water, Harold said.
"The rest was supported by wells, but the problem there is increasing development and less groundwater," she said.
Sharp said he has been drinking bad well water all his life and has to resort to drinking water he has purchased.
"I just wish they would get in here quicker," he said. "I can't wait to get water from the tap."
Jason Gonzales is a summer intern at the Herald. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.