Arch Hurley allocates one inch of water

By Thomas Garcia

The Arch Hurley Conservancy District allocated one inch of water for 2008 at its Tuesday board meeting.

The board agreed that allocating an amount now would allow farmers and ranchers to start making preparations for the water release. The board approved the allocation of one inch of water, an amount that could be increased at the district’s April meeting.

At 30 percent efficiency that translates into 5,418-acre feet available for 41,000 acres which equates to a little over an inch of water per irrigated acre, said Arch Hurley manager Franklin McCasland. The Arch Hurley irrigation project is designed to serve 41,000 acres.

Before the board agreed to the one-inch allocation, farmers and ranchers attending the meeting questioned whether it would be better to wait until the April meeting to designate an allocation.

Allocating only an inch is just a way to let people know that there is not a lot of water available in the reservoir, McCasland said. Arch Hurley would routinely allocate 18 inches in a normal year, McCasland said. But the drought has affected the level of the lake and water available to the district. Also, this year’s snowpack is not expected to add to the lake levels compared to previous years.

“We are looking at the end of April or beginning of May to begin offering water to the district members,” McCasland said. “Orders for water can be placed now. But with only an inch allocated, people would have to pay both halves of their water assessment to get that one inch of water.”

“If the board is going to allocate any water, then it must be an allocation that can be delivered,” said Arch Hurley board president Larry Perkins.

Meanwhile, the canals need to be cleared of debris before any water can be released, McCasland said. Clean up efforts could take at least 30 days.
The board also presented an update on the district’s protest against the drilling of 10 wells by Robert T. Ritter of Rimrock Rose, LLC in the Largo Canyon in San Miguel County. The board filed the protest with the Office of the State Engineer in an effort to protect its watershed and preserve its water for irrigation of lands owned by its members.

A former board member and farmer, David Foote of Tucumcari, also filed a protest against the proposed drilling in Largo Canyon.
The three parties, Rimrock Rose, Foote and the district, will meet with their attorneys present and try to work out their problems before it has to go a hearing, McCasland said.

The meeting is expected to be scheduled in the near future.

In other business before the board:

l Notified members that Arch Hurley had filed suit on March 7 in district court against Skip Vernon to recoup monies the district has spent on the disposal of property owned by Vernon and stored at a district warehouse.

l Reported on an inspection of district (ditch riders) homes by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The BOR is submitting a letter to the State Historical Society stating that the homes hold no historical significance. The district is responsible for upkeep of the homes and part of its budget is allocated to their maintenance. If the homes are designated as historical, there are several federal requirements it must meet to perform repairs.
l Agreed to donate a bridge truck to the San Jon Fire Department.

l Reviewed Resolution 1997-012, public use of right of ways which addresses access to roads along canals. Often during the winter months, landowners have locked gates at the roads along the canals. Now that work on the canals is picking up and water delivery could occur in several months, district crews need to access the roads to work on the canals.