U.S. Water News Online
CREEDE, Colo.-- Opponents of a proposed billion-dollar
resort village near Wolf Creek Ski Area are questioning whether
enough water is available, saying developers understated how much
Developer Billy "Red" McCombs, co-founder of Clear Channel
Communications Inc., has said the proposed Village at Wolf Creek
would have 2,172 housing units and 222,000 square feet of commercial
space. The site could house up to 10,000 people.
Based on information obtained by various agencies, the amount of
water developers have available would support up to 1,000 condos --
and maybe only 800 drought years, said San Luis Valley Ecosystem
Council head Chris Canaly.
McCombs and his Texas-based business partners have purchased
augmentation water use but local engineers say that doesn't ensure
water will be available on site.
The development area, located just east of the no-frills ski area
in a largely undeveloped area in southern Colorado, is "a mountain of
rock -- not a big aquifer, not a ready source (of water) at all
times," state water engineer Steve Vandiver said.
During dry spells such as the past few years, the ski area has had
to bring in water by truck, according to past reports.
Developers have proposed building seven 6-million-gallon water
storage tanks because natural storage areas are not available on
site. The tanks would be 200 feet in diameter and 26 feet high and
provide 64.2 acre feet of raw water storage.
Some say there isn't room for the tanks.
In a letter to Mineral County Commissioners in September, engineer
Charles Brendeeke said developers underestimated both the water
requirements for the proposed ski village and the physical water
supply. The letter stated the number of required tanks may be higher
Part of the problem is that no one has been able to obtain a
development plan, including the Army Corps of Engineers, the Water
Quality Control Commission and the Department of Public Health and
Environment, Canaly said. The size and scope of the development has
increased substantially since first proposed 18 years ago, he added.
Attorney James Montgomery wrote in a Sept. 15 letter that
developers have not complied with water and wastewater systems
requirements set forth in a Mineral County resolution on the
The proposed Village at Wolf Creek has caused friction between the
developers and the ski area's owners. Several lawsuits have been
filed by environmental groups and the Pitcher family, which has owned
the ski area since 1976. McCombs and his business partner, Bob Honts,
also have sued the Pitchers' Wolf Creek Ski Corp.
The U.S. Forest Service has given the public until Jan. 5 to weigh
in on the development plan after several requests from citizens and
public officials, including State Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez.
The Forest Service issued a draft environmental impact statement
in October endorsing building two roads to access private land owned
by McCombs, a crucial step toward making the Village at Wolf Creek a
If Rio Grande National Forest supervisor Peter Clark decides
against new access roads, the plan will most likely be abandoned. A
final decision is expected in late 2005.
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