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How much water does Salida need?

Sidebar by Martha Quillen

Salida Master Plan – July 1996 – Colorado Central Magazine

The wordy water depletion analysis and other water information included in the Salida Comprehensive Plan may make sense to an engineer, but it doesn’t make decisions easy for citizens and civil servants.

For example, in the beginning the plan states, “One source of additional water, the Tennessee (sic) Ditch, could provide 340 acre/feet of water for the City supporting an influx of approximately 4,500 new residents.

Later the plan includes a memorandum from McLaughlin Water Engineers, Ltd. that says when referring to the Tenassee Ditch, “By roughly proportioning the depletions, the 339 acre-feet of depletion could support an additional population of 1,730. Added to the present population of 5,100 people, Salida could expand to 6,830…. For Salida to grow beyond 7,000 to 8,000 people would require more expensive water resource developments. Purchase of Twin Lakes shares…”

And on the next page the plan purports, “By purchasing the 340 acre/feet (3.9974 cfs) from the Vandaveer’s 1878 appropriation of the Tennessee [sic] Ditch, approximately 2,130 additional units (4,767 residents) could be planned.

So how many Salidans will it take to use up 340 acre/feet of water?

Even more curious, our city council has been telling us for years that we have more than adequate rights for three times our population. When water became scarce this spring, the city insisted that we had more than adequate amounts of water and an adequate treatment plant. Yet if we adopt the Salida Comprehensive Plan, we’ll need to expand water rights and treatment facilities in the very near future.