Planned subdivision would rely on cisterns

Developer must show adequate water supply, water official says

A proposed 12-lot subdivision south of Cortez that would rely on cisterns for water has been revived.

Developer Casey McClellan introduced the neighborhood in 2009, but it was never developed.

McClellan has returned to a plan to subdivide an 80-acre parcel off County Road H, southeast of the intersection of County Road 27. Each of the 12 lots would be 6.6 acres and include individual septic, phone and electric. Access would be off County Road H and via subdivision roads.

“Four years ago, I went through agency review, and would like to continue with the process now,” McClellan said.

The planning commission and board of county commissioners have approved a pre-sketch plan for the project. If the final sketch is approved, the county commission will hold a public hearing about it.

Cisterns for each home are needed because a nearby Montezuma Water Company domestic line does not have the capacity.

Steve Bowman, general manager for MWC, said the 4-inch line along Road H would need to be upgraded in order to handle capacity for additional homes.

“It would need to be a 6-to 8-inch line,” he said. “That is an area we want to upgrade, but there are no immediate plans or financing for it right now.”

McClellan said water for the individual home cisterns would be provided by a commercial hauler that delivers water from a City of Cortez tap.

“Eventually, we could allow people to tap into the Montezuma Water Co.; we just don’t know when that improvement will be,” McClellan said.

According to planning documents, the subdivision’s Cortez water source needs additional review.

Under state laws, subdivisions are supposed to document adequate water supply to the Colorado Division of Water Resources, states Heidi Frey, a water resource engineer.

In an April 17 letter to the planning department, Frey states the division has not received up-to-date information on the Cortez water supply to the subdivision.

“As outlined in state statutes, the subdivider is required to submit evidence a water supply that is sufficient in terms of quality, quantity, and dependability will be available to ensure an adequate supply of water,” the letter states. “A water resource report of this nature was not provided.”

McClellan disagrees, and says he has worked with Cortez and the state water agency in providing information about his subdivision’s adequate water supply.

“I have worked with them and I feel their questions have been addressed,” he said. “The county has always allowed cisterns on private property, otherwise it would be hard to develop anything in rural areas. I’d like to add that no one is more conservation-minded than somebody with a cistern.”

Cortez City manager Shane Hale said the city sells a lot of bulk water and currently has plenty of capacity. But he said in an era of less water, it is not too far-fetched to consider the possibility that water dock relied on by cistern owners could one day end.

“We could be built out enough in 50 years where we can’t sell the bulk water if all we have enough for is to provide for our residents,” Hale said. “The city has a commitment to those who bought a water tap.”