Contract between the United States and the Pine River
Irrigation District for the Use of Project Water for
Miscellaneous and Other Uses
Final Environmental Assessment
The environmental assessment evaluates a proposal to execute a contract allowing use of a limited amount of irrigation water from the Pine River Project for other purposes, primarily drinking water supplies, in order to meet the needs of a growing population in portions of La Plata and Archuleta Counties in southwest Colorado.
Vallecito Reservoir of the Pine River Project regulates and stores flows of the Pine River for irrigation and flood control purposes. The project was constructed by Reclamation and is operated by the Pine River Irrigation District. Approximately 55,000 acres of Southern Ute Indian tribe and private land receive irrigation water from the project. The project service area is experiencing increased residential growth and this trend is expected to continue. Domestic water supplies in the area include individual wells and in developed areas such as the town of Bayflield, treatment and distribution systems. They are both quality and quantity problems with the existing domestic supplies.
The proposed alternative in the environmental assessment provides a contract between Reclamation and the Pine River Irrigation District to allow conversion of a limited amount of water to other uses, primarily domestic uses. This conversion is seen as the most practical method of meeting existing and future domestic water supply needs. The impact analysis shows that with the conversion, existing irrigation supplies would be protected and minor changes in streamflows and reservoir content would result. The present trend of residential growth and smaller agricultural tracts is expected to continue. Resources such as fish and wildlife, endangered species, wetlands, recreation, cultural resources, and Indian Trust Assets are not expected to be significantly affected.