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Managing the Water Resources of the Trinidad Project

Water Distribution for Farmers

Agricultural and Municipal Uses The Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District (PRVVCD District) was created pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes on December 2, 1960, to manage water distribution for agricultural+- and municipal uses to the farmers. The purpose of the formation of the District was to provide a legal entity capable of contracting with the United States for repayment of the irrigation, municipal and industrial component assigned to the Trinidad project and to provide a management entity to oversee the project.

Other responsibilities included are surveying managing the existing project water resources for equitable distribution to District membersand basin rivers, taking actions necessary to secure and ensure an adequate water supply in the present and future, constructing ·.vater reservoirs, entering into contracts with other water entitites agencies, (such as the Bureau of Reclamation), managing the District's Enterprise organizing special assessment districts, providing for in stream flows for fisheries and other legal responsibilities of needed by the District.

On February 10, 1967, the District executed a repayment contract with the United States whereby it assumed a debt of $6,465,600. 00, which is to be repaid over a 70-year period. This contract term was extended in 2018 to 75 years under existing congressional authorization.

The main feature of the Trinidad Project is Trinidad Dam, located several miles west of the City of Trinidad, on the Purgatoire River in Las Animas County, Colorado. The dam, which was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, is of the earth fill type of construction - having a height of 208 feet above the stream bed, and crest elevation of 6,298 feet above mean sea level.

The reservoir created by the dam has a total capacity of 125,967 acre-feet, which is allocated to the following uses
Flood Control 51,000 Acre Feet
Irrigation & M & I 20,000 Acre Feet
Permanent Recreation & Fishery 15,967 Acre Feet
Joint Use & Sediment Pool 39,000 Acre Feet

The irrigation and Joint Use Pools are utilized to provide storage for the irrigation by ten project ditches, of up to 19,499 acres in the project area, and for municipal use by the City of Trinidad. Each of the participating ditches has repayment contracts with the District whereby annual payments are made based upon available water during the year.

The Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation operates Trinidad State Park at the Reservoir site and provides a wide array of recreational opportunities.

The Purgatoire River Water Conservancy District Board of Directors are appointed by the Chief Judge for the Colorado 3rd Judicial District.

The Directors are appointed for varying terms, each director representing a different reach of the project. Directors currently serving on the Board are:

(*Election in January*)

  • TBD, Chairman

  • TBD, Vice Chairman

  • TBD, Treasurer

  • Frank Milinazzo, Director

  • Tony Paradisa, Director

  • Tom Verquer, Director

  • Joseph DeGarbo, Director

  • Jeremy Yoder, Director

  • Steve Kastner, General Manager

  • Connie Mantelli, Secretary & District Water Coordinator

After 4 years of hard work by the House and Senate the Salt Cedar and Russian Olive Control Demonstration Act was signed by the President on October 11, 2006 and is now law. It is referenced as HR2720 or Public Law 109-320 and can be viewed at the Library of Congress website. Many people were involved to make this law a reality. We especially thank our two sponsors, Representative Steve Pearce and Senator Pete Domenici.

The principle components of the Act included are

  • Authorization to fund $80 million for large-scale demonstrations and associated research over a five-year period.

  • Assessment of the tamarisk and Russian olive problem during the first year.

  • Assessment of bio-mass reduction and utilization.

Demonstration projects for control and re-vegetation which will serve as research platforms to assess restoration effectiveness, water savings, wildfire potential, wildlife habitat, biomass removal, and economics of restoration.

Project funding would be 75% federal and 25% local with up to $7,000,000 per project for the federal share development of long-term management and funding strategies The interior will be the lead and work with USDA through a memorandum of understanding to administer the Act.

The next step, for which we are providing technical support, is the inclusion of appropriations to fully fund the Act.

Invasive Trees

Three species of non-native trees are of concern in the Arkansas River valley because of their effect on native habitat.


Native to central Asia and Africa, tamarisk, also known as salt cedars, are shrubs or small trees that grow in thickets imported to North America as ornamental shrubs in the 1800s. Some varieties reach up to 50 feet high. One tree can use up to 200 gallons of water per day and produce up to 2.5 million seeds. They are exceptionally resistant to drought and fire and choke out native vegetation. They are controlled by a combination of chemical, biological and mechanical methods.

Siberian Elm

Native to China, eastern Siberia, and Korea, the Siberian elm produces thousands of seeds that quickly germinate, particularly in disturbed areas. The fast-growing tree was brought into the United States in the 1860s and has spread to most states. It can reach 50-70 feet in height. It grows well in dry conditions and quickly displaces native trees. They can be controlled chemically, manually and by burning seeds.

Russian Olive

Native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, Russian olives are small thorny trees that out-compete native species. They first came to the country as ornamental trees, then escaped to the wild. They were formerly recommended for windbreaks. The tree thrives in poor soil. While offering some food and habitat for wildlife, Russian olive is less suitable than native plants. Mowing and removing dead vegetation may be the most effective control.

Board Meeting Schedule

January 2, 20207:00 PM
February 6, 20207:00 PM
March 5, 20207:00 PM
April 2, 20207:30 PM
May 7, 20207:30 PM
June 6, 20207:30 PM
July 2, 20207:30 PM
August 6, 20207:30 PM
September 3, 20207:30 PM
October 1, 20207:00 PM
November 5, 20207:00 PM
December 10, 20207:00 PM

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