Congressman John Salazar today announced that the United States House of Representatives has passed a bill he sponsored to save critical water infrastructure for the residents of the Mancos Valley and Mesa Verde National Park.
The Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act is needed to extend the life of the aging Mancos Project on the Mancos River north of Mancos in Montezuma County. The Jackson Gulch reservoir supplies water to the town of Mancos, the Mancos Water Conservancy District, the Mancos Rural Water Company and is the sole supplier of municipal water for Mesa Verde National Park. The project provides irrigation water for over 13,000 acres.
Congressman Salazar noted: "The Mancos project is the main source for domestic, agriculture, and recreational water supplies in the Mancos Valley and for Mesa Verde National Park. Many of my constituents in that area depend on that water and the farm and ranchland it irrigates to make their living. No one can afford to lose their water supply and I am very pleased and proud that this bill has passed."
Gary Kennedy, Superintendent of the Mancos Water Conservancy District noted:
"I'm excited to see the House move this important bill forward. Without this legislation we stand a significant chance of losing this whole project and the water supply our families, farms and Mesa Verde all depend on. I appreciate Congressman Salazar's leadership to move this bill forward on behalf of the Mancos Valley."
On the bill's passage, Larry Wiese, Superintendent of Mesa Verde National Park added:
"We're really encouraged about the potential improvements and the ability to provide consistent quality water to both the visitors and the employees of Mesa Verde National Park."
Tom Yennerell, Town Administrator for the Town of Mancos offered these comments on the need for the project:
"The whole reservoir and canal are critical to this area's survival and future growth and maintaining this aging infrastructure is a necessity."
Additional Background on the Mancos Project:
After years of devastating drought in the 1930s the Mancos Project was authorized in 1940 under President Roosevelt and construction of the project was completed in 1949 using Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Work Projects Administration (WPA) forces in the construction. Today the canals and facilities have exceeded their life expectancy and are in need of rehabilitation or full replacement if repairs are delayed.
The Jackson Gulch Rehabilitation Act was passed as part of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 which now goes to the President for consideration.