DENVER – A Southwest Colorado water district can expect $1,575,000 from the Legislature to help build a dam just off the La Plata River.
It’s one of the few water projects statewide the Legislature is funding this year.
Long Hollow Reservoir, about five miles north of the New Mexico border, is being built to help farmers and ranchers in southwestern La Plata County keep water through the dry months, while at the same time letting the state meet its legal obligation to deliver water to New Mexico.
“Part of the reservoir would be for interstate compact compliance when Colorado has a difficult time making deliveries to New Mexico,” said Bruce Whitehead, executive director of the Southwest Water Conservation District.
Under the La Plata River Compact of 1922, Colorado has to make sure at least half the water in the La Plata River at Hesperus makes it across the state line. Because the state is legally responsible for meeting the compact, officials at the La Plata Water Conservancy District asked for state funding when they had a construction cost overrun, Whitehead said.
With the money from the state’s water projects fund, Long Hollow reservoir should be finished by fall, he said. Most of the money to build the reservoir was set aside when the Animas-La Plata Project was scaled down.
The Legislature’s annual water projects bill, House Bill 1333, often has something for water users all across the state. But this year, Long Hollow is the only construction project to get direct funding. The bill also makes up to $131 million in loans to two projects on Denver’s south side – an expansion of Chatfield Reservoir and a water-efficiency and reuse project in the southern suburbs.
The bill has passed the House on a 61-1 vote, and it is on track to pass the Senate early this week.