Buena Vista takes steps to protect water supply — The Mountain Mail

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From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

The town of Buena Vista recently developed a Source Water Protection Plan that prioritizes concerns about the town drinking-water supply and identifies strategies to protect that water supply.

Buena Vista Public Works Director Greg Maggard and John Duggan with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) provided an overview of the BV plan during the monthly meeting of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors April 14.

The BV plan, Maggard said, employs a two-step strategy recommended by CDPHE (1) to prioritize town water sources based on susceptibility to contamination and (2) to prioritize potential contaminant sources.

Following this strategy, Maggard said contaminant sources were prioritized based on the prevalence of contaminants and specific contaminants that represent the greatest threat to the water supply.
Using data from a variety of sources, including the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment, Maggard said town staff:

Identified areas of concern for public water systems.

Identified mine sites within 3 miles upstream from water system intakes and 1,000 feet from streams.

Established baseline water quality data for all water sources.

Scheduled ongoing source-water monitoring at regular intervals.

Mines and large septic systems represent the most significant threats to the Buena Vista water supply, Maggard said.

The source water protection planning process was developed as a result of a 1996 congressional amendment to the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act that required each state to develop a source water assessment and protection (SWAP) program.

In the first phase of the SWAP program, Duggan said, Colorado conducted an assessment of all public water supplies.

The second phase is about protecting source water and involves developing and implementing a source water protection plan. Duggan stressed that phase 2 is voluntary but supported by funds from the state.

Prior to undertaking the source water protection planning process, Buena Vista had already established a Source Water Protection District around its drinking water sources, allowing the town to review county building permit applications inside district boundaries.

Maggard said the town’s new plan would complement the district and probably should have been developed prior to forming the district.

In other business district board members:

  • Learned that the state recently approved the district’s engineering application for storing water in the alluvial aquifer near Johnson Village.
  • Heard an update on the Lake Ranch Multi-Use Project, which received more than $200,000 in grant money and will include a 5- to 8-acre demonstration garden.
  • Decided to initiate efforts to obtain grant funding to begin phase 2 of the district’s water balance study, which would examine potential aquifer storage in the Wet Mountain Valley.
  • Learned that the district currently stores 3738.9 acre-feet of water in various reservoirs.
  • Voted not to acquire additional Fry-Ark Project water since the district will carry over 1,569 of project water from previous years.
  • Heard a report on the Cottonwood Reservoir feasibility study indicating the survey work will be completed in May once the ice has melted.
  • Heard an update on the rainwater harvesting bill, which is now law.
  • Unanimously agreed to stipulate out of Water Court case 07CW129.
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