As a dry summer is most likely in the cards, the Lake Durango Water Authority wants to bolster, by any means, the reserve of water it has in Lake Durango for 1,200 customers southwest of Durango.
Among areas served are the two Durango West subdivisions and the Trappers Crossing, Rafter J and Shenandoah neighborhoods. Besides the 1,200 active taps, 235 taps are not yet serviced.
A long-term solution is in the works, but just to be prudent, the agency has asked the Division of Water Resources to approve converting 0.9 cfs of irrigation water to household use for its customers.
The new water is what remains of the Hutchinson family share of Pine River Ditch water from the La Plata River. Part of the Hutchinson water already has been acquired for Lake Durango use.
Lake Durango, which has a capacity of 1,000 acre-feet, currently stores 385 acre-feet, which includes a dead pool of 175 acre-feet. A dead pool is water below outlet level.
“The lake is approaching an emergency situation,” the agency says in making its case to the Division of Water Resources. “Southwest Colorado currently is experiencing the second prolonged drought in 12 years, and Phase 3 conservation restrictions – no outside watering allowed – implemented in May 2013 are still in effect.”
Exacerbating the situation is that the Columbus Basin snowpack (the source of water for the La Plata River) stands as 76 percent of average, the Lake Durango Water Authority says. It is unlikely that any snow now will significantly increase runoff.
Even if late-season snow increases runoff, there is no guarantee that the agency will get water because its water rights to 4.725 cfs are junior to many others.
As a long-term solution to its woes, the Lake Durango Water Authority is in the process of acquiring water from Lake Nighthorse through agreements with the La Plata West Water Authority, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
Lake Durango Water Authority will build a pipeline to Lake Durango from the Lake Nighthorse intake constructed by the three partners. In exchange for water, the Lake Durango treatment plant will provide potable water in the future to La Plata West and the Ute tribes.
Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in the summer of 2015.