Apple Gate

Animas‐La Plata Project

Publication Date: 
August, 2009
The Animas‐La Plata Project (ALP) was originally envisioned in 1968 to provide nearly 191,200 acre‐ft of water for irrigation, municipal, and industrial use. For the following 32 years, however, the project went through many changes and faced many challenges. Construction was originally scheduled to begin in 1980 but this was halted when the Carter Administration suspended new public works water projects. In the following years the project was faced with a new biological opinion from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that limited the project size to an annual depletion of 57,100 acre‐ft in order to protect endangered fish species. During the 90’s the project faced additional challenges from environmental groups. The Bureau of Reclamation released a final Environmental Impact Statement in 2000 which recommended the scaled down version of the project which would provide water for the Ute Indian Tribes, municipal and industrial uses as well as address the Endangered Species and Clean Water Act requirements. Irrigation storage, however, was removed from the project. Water from the Animas River will be pumped up to the 120,000 acre‐ft Lake Nighthorse which is located on an adjacent drainage. The reservoir will serve as a local recreation area with 30,000 acre‐ft of water in Lake Nighthorse reserved for recreational, fishery, and water quality purposes. Construction on the pumping plant and embankment dam began in 2002 and the majority of work was recently completed in the spring of 2009. Lake Nighthorse started filling in April 2009 and will continue to fill over the next year or two depending on water availability. For additional information click on the links below: United States Bureau of Reclamation Animas‐LaPlata in the News