The Southwestern Water Conservation District (SWCD) was created by the State of Colorado legislation through House Bill #795 which was approved by the General Assembly on April 16, 1941. The charter of the District is to protect, conserve, use and develop the water resources of the Southwestern basin for the welfare of the District, and to safeguard for Colorado all waters of the basin to which the state is entitled. It is one of four Conservation Districts in the state.
Included in the Southwestern Water Conservation District are nine counties: Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan, San Miguel, and parts of Hinsdale, Mineral, and Montrose. County Commissioners in each county appoint a person to represent them on the SWCD Board of Directors, and the Directors’ terms are for three-year periods. The SWCD Board of Directors meets for regular board meetings every other month and holds bi-monthly teleconference meetings during the Colorado legislative sessions (from January to mid-May). See Calendar
Several significant water storage reservoirs have been built within the District to ensure adequate water supplies to meet current and future needs.
Completed in the 1960’s, this storage reservoir on the Florida River provides irrigation water for the Florida Mesa in La Plata County.
Jackson Gulch Reservoir
This is an off-river storage project with a feeder canal running 2.6 miles from the West Mancos river and a return canal of 2.2 miles back to the West Mancos river. This storage provides irrigation water for over 13,000 acres as well as municipal water for Mesa Verde National park, the Mancos Rural Water Company and the Town of Mancos. A hydroelectric power plant has been added and provides power for approximately 50 homes in the vicinity.
Completed in 1985, this storage project is on the Dolores River and it provides irrigation and domestic water to the towns of Cortez, Dove Creek, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. It is the 2nd largest artificial body of water in Colorado.
Basin Ridges Dam & Lake Nighthorse
The newest water storage project in the District is the Animas – La Plata Project authorized by Congress in 1968. Construction began in 2001 after the passage of the Colorado Ute Settlement Act Amendments of 2000. The reservoir was filled to capacity in June 2011.
Two other projects are under development: Dry Gulch Reservoir in Archuleta County and Long Hollow Reservoir in La Plata County.