Since Beulah Valley’s two municipal water systems are considering combining into one district, it is worth looking back at the history of water systems within the Beulah valley.
Long before anyone even thought about a community water system, there were water rights. In Pueblo County those all-important rights, preserved in the County Courthouse records, date back to territorial days. The area served by today’s Pine Drive Water System was granted 0.1 cubic feet per second ( cfs ) from the 1861 Eureka Ditch. Similarly, the area served by today’s Beulah Water District was granted 0.7 cfs from the 1864 Fisher Ditch.
Prior to community water districts, people in the valley collected water with wells and pumps, or cisterns and catchments directly from the creeks. Bill Hower remembers that, as a kid, he had the job of bringing water buckets to the house from Squirrel Creek below the confluence of Squirrel and South Creeks. The water was not treated and he never recalled there ever being a problem using the raw creek water. Since there were so few people in Beulah Valley at that time, there was essentially no runoff that was affected by human activity.
In 1938, Beulah decided to vote on the formation of a municipal water system to serve the north end of the valley. According to the Pueblo County resolution dated March 21, 1938, “That 68 votes were cast by the legal electors of said proposed district; that of the said 68 votes cast, 35 were in favor of the formation of the district and 33 opposed thereto…”.
Not exactly a landslide, but the newly organized Beulah Water Works District, ( BWWD) was formed. Warren L. (Shorty) Parker, Frank D. Herrick and Minneola Reilly were voted as directors. A list of property owners at the time of formation reveals some familiar names, such as Boggs, Broome, Clarke, Davis, Donley, Hadwiger, Jones, Klipfel, Mace (!), Purvis, Serfling, and Traeber.
The original BWWD water intake was located at Soda Springs, close to where the bridge over Middle Creek now connects Grand and Central Avenues. A pump was installed to send the water to the treatment plant on the hill above. Tragically, Shorty Parker died in a dynamite explosion while trenches were being dug.
In 1962, BWWD applied for a permit to construct a new headgate on Middle Creek. This proved to be a vast improvement over the existing Soda Springs site. Water could now be gravity fed directly to the plant. Taking from the creek also solved numerous problems associated with getting water out of the ground. The new headgate was installed a few miles to the west of Soda Springs, and it serves BWWD today.
The need for a new domestic water supply grew out of the limitations of the Pueblo Mountain Park System, which provided water on a seasonal basis for the park and a few cabins along South Pine Drive. As time went by, more of the cabins were used year-round, with newly installed toilets and washing machines. During summers the Mountain Park system ran dry.
Year-round residents and users of the Mountain Park system got together to investigate what was required to finance and build a new water system to serve the South Pine and Pine Drive areas, as well as Squirrel Creek, Morton Road and South Creek. Led by Bob Boyer, at great personal expense and effort, the Pine Drive Water Association (PDWA) was formed to look for a new water source. Approximately one year later, on May 2, 1978, the PDWA legally formed as the Pine Drive Water District (PDWD). The vote was held at the Pine Drive Store, and the proposal passed 94 to 2. PDWD was comprised of 86 members who procured $40,000 for shares in Penrose’s Eureka Ditch, which was then traded with CF&I for rights on North Creek.
The newly formed PDWD secured a loan of $630,000, as well as an additional $290,000 grant from Farmer’s Home Administration to create infrastructure. An engineer was hired to draw up plans, and several planning meetings ensued. Board officials Bob Boyer (president), Marvin Jantz, Jim Bergemann, Alice Balleweg and, long-serving Gary Kyte went to work. By 1979, PDWD had 165 taps. Users paid district tax and a monthly fee to fund the system.
Not to be confused with the PDWD, there is a small water system called Pine Drive Water Company (PDWC), formed in the 1920’s. Originally serving about 18 houses, it drew water from Squirrel Creek and is still in service today.
Arguably, water is the most important natural resource in Beulah Valley, vital for people, animals, and fire suppression. It is worth appreciating the work and dedication of past and present residents to secure clean, reliable domestic water for fellow citizens and future generations.
Thanks to Bill Hower, Bill Wheeler, Catherine Halcomb and Gary Kyte for information used in this article.
Beulah resident, Carol Fortino has worked in Australia, the Philippines, and Latvia. She received her B.A. in Humanities and Graduate Teaching Degree from U.C. Berkeley, California, an M. A. in Elementary Education from Adams State, and Ph.D. from Queensland University of Technology. Carol’s books can be purchased locally from the host, Stompin’ Grounds, or Carol.
1. How long have you lived in Beulah? What do you love about living in Beulah? How does the area influence your writing?
My grandparents, Attie and Nick Provenzano, live here year-round, so I spent my childhood roaming the Beulah Hills. I bought a small cabin in 1984 and kept it until my grandson was born in 2001. Then I realized I needed a full-time house with a HEATER! Been here full time since 2002 after retiring from Univ. of Northern Colorado. Having been in the field of environmental science from the get go, my books always include description of nature and science and I am sure the influence of Beulah plays a deep underpinning.
2. You have a bed and breakfast, what do you love about opening up your home to strangers? Does the interaction influence your writing?
I meet interesting people from all over the world. If they are interested in my books, we have great conversations. I am now exchanging poetry with a farmer from Kansas.
3. What is your favorite all-time read as a child?
Nancy Drew – guess I always loved mysteries and figuring out the motives of the characters. I love to travel around the world and I read voraciously a series of books - “The Belgium Twins,” “The Italian Twins,” and many more by Lucy Fitch Perkins. How Ironic, that in 1972, my husband and I would adopt twin girls. As a young adult, I loved “Kon Tiki” and later books by Leon Uris and James Michener.
4. How long have you been writing? How often do you write?
I have written poetry since childhood and still today. My three poetry books are “When the Bus Stops,” Sketches on a Napkin” the most current, “Somewhere Between.” I’ve just started my new file for 2019 called “Shrapnel of the Heart.”
I really didn’t have time for my avocation of writing novels until I retired from the University. Too much time needed for writing grants and academic papers, teaching etc. My first novel is set in New Mexico, but if you are from the Pueblo region, you might recall the two stories that I intertwined - murder, the psychological effects of hubris, cold-case files, human trafficking and drug cartels. The second novel “Driving Forces” is based on work I did while an Australian citizen working in Mindanao, Philippines. It combines cultural and religious themes from the USA, Australia and the Philippines and political intrigue of the Abu Saif. My latest novel, “Wineglass on the Veranda” was conceived over two years ago, and once again, confronts contemporary issues of teenage internet use, foster care and the physical and psychological effects of separation of children from parents. I had no idea what an important topic it would be in today’s political climate.
5. As a former professor of science and environmental education, does the ability to critically analyze help or hinder as a writer?
I write short, concise books, maybe better called novelettes. I think this comes from writing academic papers that would be critically analyzed. MY motto is -say what you have to say and be done with it. I could pad the books out to 400 pages which seems to be all the rage today. But why?
6. Aside from creative and poetic works, you have written on a range of contemporary topics including, human trafficking, drug cartels, political rebels, internet trolling, child abandonment, emotional and physical abuse; what motivates you to write on the hard topics? Where do you do your research.
The trickiest part of writing fiction that intertwines factual accounts is the very fine line of being true to the characters, the settings and yet keeping the adult plots interesting. I use the internet, magazine articles and newspapers. Even after I finish a book, I continue to gather research, probable to verify that what I wrote is valid. For example, I have a long file of quotes about “hubris”. Unfortunately, the cold case file for the young boy that I fictionalize in “The Rings of Hubris” has never been solved. I keep current news articles on what is happening on the island of Mindanao and things haven’t changed much for the Philippines, especially with their current president. Right after “Wineglass on the Veranda” was published, William Wan from the Washington Post wrote a very important and well-researched article about the catastrophic effects on the separation of children from their parents. I often give a copy of that article to interested people who attend my book talks.
7. How did you choose the title of your most recent book, Wineglass on the Veranda, the tragic fictional tale of Alex Crabbe?
The title of the last book was suggested by a challenge from a neighbor who lived on the island where I was house-sitting for friends off the coast of Brisbane, Australia. He took a similar photo and I tried my own hand at it. I chose that photo for the cover. All my other covers have been drawn by my artist friend, Ted Fusby, whom I have known since university days at Berkeley.
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