The Dallas Creek Water Company, which provides domestic water to residents and commercial users on Log Hill Mesa above Ridgway, completed its first Water Source Protection Plan in August. Funded through a $5,000 Development and Implementation Grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the plan was developed through several meetings of local stakeholders led by a steering committee* and written by Kimberly Mihelich, a source water specialist with the Colorado Rural Water Association. The following is an interview with Dallas Creek Water Company Administrator Joanne Fairchild about the significance of the new plan for the privately-owned public water system and the community.
What does it mean to have this plan finished and available?
Completing the Protection Plan means that the risks to our source water that were identified by the 2004 Assessment Plan by Colorado Department of Health have been either verified as existing or eliminated as not a current risk. After that step, we developed some best management practices to control the risks based on prioritizing their probability of occurring as well as the level of impact to our utility if the risk did occur.
What was learned by going through the plan creation process?
We learned that the initial assessment by the State of Colorado was a broad overview and that some risks such as mining activity were not direct risks to our source water. We imagined several emergency situations and how they would impact the creeks that feed into Dallas Creek at or near our intake point. Working with surrounding landowners and government agencies in Ouray County, we found that we all had a common concern for keeping source water free from contaminates and we feel confident that a collaborative view of best management practices affecting our source water will become part of the people who are living and working in the protection area. We are working to make the public aware of the location of our source water protection area.
What will the water company do as a result of the plan?
We ended up with a working plan that will be updated every two years, and any new operations or facilities that are added in our protection area will be reviewed for risk to the source water. We do not have specific projects planned for the short term other than educating people about the location of our source water. In the long term, we will keep our stakeholders and interested parties involved in whatever is impacting our source water.
To read the plan, click here: Dallas Creek Water Source Protection Plan 2016
More information about the water company is available at http://dallascreekwater.com/
* The Water Source Protection Plan Steering Committee members were:Dallas Creek Water Company Treatment Plant Operator (and UWP Board Chair) Anthony Ramsey,Dallas Creek Water Company Administrator Joanne Fairchild, Dallas Creek Water Company Owner Jim Willey Owner, Log Hill Mesa Fire District Assistant Fire Chief Tom Austin , Ouray County Public Health Director Elisabeth Lawaczeck, U.S. Forest Service Acting District Ranger Cyndi Szymanski, U.S. Forest Service Lands & Mineral Staff member Liz Mauch, and Tri-County Water Conservancy District Ridgway Reservoir Dam Manager Ion Spor.