Southwestern Water hears proposals for Dryside irrigation — The Cortez Journal

Animas-La Plata Project map via USBR
Animas-La Plata Project map via USBR

From The Durango Herald (Jessica Pace) via The Cortez Journal:

Options to pump Animas River water to Redmesa for irrigation were recently floated to the Southwestern Water Conservation District, though none of the projects have funding.

The proposals would pump water uphill from the Lake Nighthorse intake to Redmesa Reservoir, east of the La Plata River and about four miles north of the New Mexico border.

“The 700-foot elevation difference is the reason it hasn’t been done, and demand is the reason it won’t go away,” said Steve Harris, a water engineer who designed the projects. “Taylor Reservoir is an attempt to better use what little water is out there, but we’re still short-changed.”

Under the 1922 La Plata River Compact, the state is required to send half of the La Plata River’s flow from Hesperus, when it is discharging at 100 cubic feet per second or less, to New Mexico. But hot summers, peak irrigation season and subsequent low flows can prevent Colorado from fulfilling this obligation.

The Bobby K. Taylor Reservoir, just south of Redmesa, was designed to allow Colorado water users to divert water that would otherwise flow to New Mexico. Harris’ designs would offer another means of getting water to La Plata County’s Dayside…

The proposals vary in construction and operational costs and size.

One would pump 14 cfs from the Lake Nighthorse intake to Redmesa Reservoir, discharging at points along the way including at Long Hollow Reservoir. The cost of construction is estimated at $43.5 million.

Another proposal, which would cost about $430 million to build, would pump 287 cfs through larger pipelines. This project would require new infrastructure because the 287 cfs would exceed existing infrastructure’s capacity.

A third proposal would pump 14 cfs directly from the Animas River to Redmesa Reservoir for a construction cost of $58.5 million.

Whitehead said it would be premature to name a preferred design, or say how a future project might be funded.

“The important thing with all of them is that they all show there are benefits, and it comes down to refining them and seeing who would potentially partner with us.”

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