‘The main feature of the Trinidad Project is Trinidad Dam’ — Jeris Danielson

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Jeris Danielson):

Trinidad Lake, west of Trinidad, is the result of state legislation more than 50 years ago. The Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District was created by the state Legislature on Dec. 2, 1960. The district is capable of contracting with the United States for repayment of the irrigation, municipal and industrial uses of the Trinidad Project and to provide a management entity to oversee the project.

Other responsibilities include: Surveying existing water resources and basin rivers; taking actions necessary to secure an adequate supply of water — present and future; constructing water reservoirs; entering into contracts with other water agencies, (such as the Bureau of Reclamation), organizing special assessment districts, providing for instream flows for fisheries; and other legal responsibilities needed by the district to fulfill its purposes.

On Feb. 10, 1967, the district executed a repayment contract with the United States whereby it assumed a debt of $6.46 million to be repaid over a 70-year period.

The main feature of the Trinidad Project is Trinidad Dam, located several miles west of Trinidad on the Purgatoire River in Las Animas County. The dam, which was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, is of earth-fill construction — having a height of 208 feet above the stream bed and crest elevation of 6,298 feet.
Trinidad Lake, the reservoir created by the dam, has a total capacity of 125,967 acre-feet, which is allocated to the following uses:

  • Flood control: 51,000 acre-feet
  • Irrigation, municipal and industrial: 20,000 acre-feet
  • Permanent recreation and fishery: 15,967 acre-feet
  • Joint use and sediment pool: 39,000 acre-feet
  • The irrigation and joint use pools are utilized to provide storage for irrigation by 10 project ditches that irrigate up to 19,499 acres in the project area, for municipal use by the city of Trinidad and for recreational use by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. Each of the participating ditches have repayment contracts with the district and make annual payments based upon available water during the year.

    The district retains operational control of all water rights owned by the ditches and allocates water available on an equitable basis to all project acres. Once the reservoir is declared empty by the district board, exercise of the water rights reverts to the respective ditches under normal priority administration.

    Jeris Danielson is general manager of the Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District.

    More Purgatoire River coverage here.

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