CENTER — Center trustees, town manager Brian Lujan and mayor Herman Sisneros attended the fourth in a series of several workshops presented Tuesday by water specialist Colleen Williams with the Colorado Rural Water Association.
The presentation was part of a program that helps the town earn points for a $5,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to eventually develop a water protection plan for the town. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The town has already earned $4,230 in funding points for developing its water protection plan, Williams said.
The Lazy KV Homeowners Association, the town of Saguache and Valley View Hot springs have already implemented plans with the program. Williams also has worked with Salida and Crestone.
Williams now has completed the draft plan for the town to review and says the plan provides a lot of information about the water and aquifers.
She emphasized that although potential dangers to the town’s water supply have been identified, currently there is no problem; the program simply encourages prevention. Williams noted that even in its risk assessments, the town had no “very highs.”
She encouraged the town to develop partnerships with business and industry and to bring community members together to share information. Williams also asked board members to look over the draft and make suggestions and corrections.
Once completed, the plan will be submitted to the Colorado Department of Health and Environment, (CDPHE). A copy of the plan also will be forwarded to Saguache County Commissioners.
Chris Sittler with Stone’s Farm Supply told trustees concerned about fertilizer and pesticide storage in town that the Farm Service stores ammonia nitrate (not the explosive type) in a marked container on its property and the Monte Vista Co-op keeps anhydrous ammonia on its site, but this container also is marked.
“We built this [pesticide] facility at Nine Mile so it’s clear out of town and not near to anyone,” Sittler said. Trustee Pedro Segura said town residents don’t know what is in rail cars passing through the town or whether or not they are unloading dangerous materials.
Sittler said the information about where the materials are stored is on CDPHE’s website or can be obtained through an open records request. Williams advised trustees to access the information themselves and stay informed on water monitoring issues.
She advised the board to “take all kinds or precautions to protect the community” and reminded them they need to cap wells in the town that are not currently sealed. The town should make a list of what to spend the grant money on and then meet again in mid-December, she concluded.