Serving the High Plains

Arch Hurley declines to allocate additional water

The Arch Hurley Conservancy District board of directors last week declined to allocate additional water while it prepares its irrigation canals for an earlier allocation.

The board officially voted on May 14 to not allocate any additional water at this time.

Despite rain the previous weekend, district manager Franklin McCasland reported that Conchas Lake’s levels that morning were at 4,172.9 feet — about two-thirds of a foot higher than the previous month but below the optimum level of 4,174 feet and higher to release more water.

The board in May allocated 2 inches of water per acre for area farmers and ranchers for the growing season.

McCasland detailed preparations for the water allocation, including burning brush and repairing gates and checks in the canal system.

McCasland said after the meeting he anticipated running water in the canals sometime in June.

In other business:

— The board approved a budget proposal of a $1 increase in assessments per acre.

McCasland said he also offered a proposal of a $2 increase in assessments per acre, but he was reluctant to recommend that because “right now, a lot of people are struggling.”

Board President Robert Lopez agreed with the $1 increase, noting the district is “limping along” due to years of drought.

McCasland said the $1 hike would nominally keep up with inflation.

Board members also voiced reluctance to hire a grant writer to apply for federal funds to build an enclosed pipeline from the lake to preserve more water.

John Griffiths said there was “no guarantee” a grant writer would obtain the funds.

Larry Perkins said the board needs to pursue a specific plan before making such a hire.

“We need to decide what we want a grant for,” he said.

— The board approved its annual $250 membership dues with the Eastern Plains Council of Governments.

— The board approved its infrastructure capital improvement plan for 2024-2025. McCasland said he was the same plan as the previous fiscal year, as the district did not receive any capital outlay money.

— The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was inspecting its ditch-rider houses along the canal system. McCasland said many of those homes are more than 75 years old and uninhabitable. He said he expects a report from the bureau on those structures within three months.