Talks are underway regarding the possibility of building a more than 50-mile pipeline that would transport water from Durango, Colorado to northwest New Mexico.
Members of the Farmington-based San Juan Water Commission have been looking at the pros and cons of what would be a multi-million million project, the purpose of which would offer a guaranteed source of water for a number of New Mexico communities during times of drought.
Estimates of the project’s likely cost have ranged from $83 million to $173 million.
The water would specifically come from Lake Nighthorse in Durango, and, according to advocates, would offer a safer system of delivery than is currently provided with Animas River water that travels through deficient septic systems.
Lake Nighthorse, which is managed by the Bureau of Reclamation, currently stores water for the Navajo Nation, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, and the Southern Ute Tribe. By agreement, the San Juan Water Commission has rights to nearly 21,000 acre-feet of water in the lake.
If built, the pipeline would also deliver water to utility companies in the New Mexico communities of Bloomfield, Lee Acres, and West Hammond.
A development study for the project that was completed three years ago said that even if the pipeline is finally approved it would take years to build, due to both its size and the challenge of acquiring right of way for its construction.
It is not known when the commission will make a final decision on the project.
Created in 1986, the commission is tasked with protecting the water resources of the cities of Aztec, Bloomfield, and Farmington, along with San Juan County, among other entities.
By Garry Boulard
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