Alpine Lakes Ranch
Property Owners Association
17774 Highway 84, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

New Owner's Guide


Disclaimer/Additions and Corrections:

Although contributors have done their best to provide you with information that is current, correct, and might be of use, we assume no responsibility for your actions. Please confirm the information shown here before you act. If you have any suggestions or comments please contact the current Secretary/Director of ALRPOA. Contact information for ALRPOA is available on our Web Site at:


ALRPOA Board of Directors

Revised 2019

Alpine Lakes Ranch (ALR)
New Owner's Guide


Alpine Lakes Ranch is over 8,600 acres of land in Archuleta County, Colorado south of Pagosa Springs. The Ranch is divided into lots of 35 acres or larger. Elevations on the Ranch range between about 6,000 and 8,000 feet. The area is classified as high desert, receiving 16-19 inches of rain and 60-160 inches of snow per year (Measured at 7,000'; One foot of snow equals approximately 1" of rain). The Ranch is divided into four areas with differing landscapes: Elk Ridge, Coyote Park, Ponderosa Hills, and Alpine Meadows. Our ranch has its owns water rights for irrigation purposes in four lakes, which irrigate specific properties in Alpine Meadows and Coyote Park.  The owners of these properties own shares in the ALR Ditch and Reservoir Company.   The ranch also has its own renewable water resources for home use, serving all homes.

The Ranch borders BLM (Federal Bureau of Land Management) and National Forest land, and we control the rights to several private National Forest Accesses in each section of the Ranch. As of February 2019, there are 215 parcels of land on Alpine Lakes Ranch.  As of this revision, the Ranch is approximately 54% built out.  

 Welcome to Alpine Lakes Ranch

Congratulations on the acquisition of your property and on your decision to make Alpine Lakes Ranch your new home! Many people have questions regarding the building process on the Ranch as well as other related topics.

In an attempt to make it as easy as possible, the Alpine Lakes Ranch Property Owners Association has put together this document for you to consider before building a residence on the Ranch. Additional information can be found on the Ranch’s website:

Building a Residence

One of the first things you will probably want to do is choose a building site for your house. According to architectural regulations on the ranch, the first building constructed must be a residence of at least 1,000 square feet. This architecture requirement is to assure that property owners do not put up a small shed and then never truly improve the lot, thus affecting adjacent property values. The construction must fall within the prescribed setbacks of a minimum of 100 feet from a road and 50 feet from a side or rear property line.

35 acres (or more) is a significant area of land. Most people who choose to live on Alpine Lakes Ranch place great value on the fact that they can live more or less privately, and that they can enjoy the natural wonders that this type of living affords. In choosing your residence site, please pay attention to how your house might be seen from your neighbors’ viewpoint. In addition, you will most likely want to know if your building site falls on animal travel routes. If it does, changing the location 50 yards in one direction or another may allow these magnificent, natural flows to continue right in front of your living room window. Check with your neighbors or the architectural chairperson to find out more about this.  

Another thing to consider before building, or before having plans drawn up, is the issue of snowfall. As lovely as newly fallen snow looks blanketing your roof, that snow is going to succumb to the forces of warmer temperatures and gravity. The pitch of the roof is important to consider to help the snow clear from the roof, as is the direction of the pitch. Be sure your roof will not drop mountains of snow right in front of your garage door or other important doorways or walkways.

Weather patterns differ from one section of the ranch to another and neighbors can be helpful resources in advising from which direction the weather usually comes. You may want to consult with them about these types of issues before positioning your house.

All new structures, whether permanent or temporary, require a letter of approval by the Architectural Chairperson of the POA. In order to get this approval letter, you must submit:

  1. Elevation drawings of the building
  2. Setbacks
  3. Square footage of the building
  4. Physical address of the property

More information can be obtained by going to the website: – Rules and Regulations – Architectural Requirements

The county will not issue a building permit for Alpine Lakes Ranch without this letter of approval.

Outbuildings or agricultural buildings do not require a county building permit if they are under 180 square feet. They do, however, require an approval letter from the POA and must fall within the setbacks.

No temporary structure, RV, camper, etc. shall be used on any parcel as a residence. However, once a building permit is obtained from the county, the above mentioned temporary structure may be used during the building process for up to one year. See Article XI(A) for more information.  Also, be aware that before a residence is built, RVs, Campers etc may only be located on a property for 90 calendar days per year.

In addition, should utilities need to be moved, cutting across the road is not permitted. Boring under the road is the accepted practice, but this must be done by a ALRPOA Board approved contractor.


When putting in a driveway, culverts of a minimum of 15 inches are generally required by the POA to aid in water and snowmelt run off, so as to protect our roads. See ALRPOA – Rules and Regulations - Architectural Requirements - #9.


Please be aware that every parcel has recorded easements that allow for access by utility companies and some other specific allowances. Please check the website: www. ALRPOA – Rules and Regulations -Architectural Requirements - #5.  All Ranch roads have a 30 foot easement from the center line that allows pedestrians, horseback riders and vehicles to pass. Some properties have specific easements that allow horseback riders or hikers to access the National Forest. Motorized vehicles are not allowed off road on the National Forest.

Irrigation Ditches

Some properties in Alpine Meadows and Coyote Park are situated along the system of irrigation ditches owned by Alpine Lakes Ditch and Reservoir Company (ALDRC). Ditch shares (one share = one acre foot of water) are transferred during the selling process of a property. They are not normally available for separate or individual purchase.

If your property has irrigation shares, please be aware that in order to breach a ditch for any purpose such as installation of a driveway or trenching for utility lines, an application to breach the ditch must be obtained from the ALDRC. (ALRPOA – Ditch Company – Headgate Specifications.) All headgates are the responsibility of the owner to purchase, install and maintain, but must be installed according to ALDRC standards.

Fire Concerns

Wildfire is a serious concern for all of us. In choosing your house site. It is very important to plan for defensible space around your home and outbuildings, especially if your lot is heavily wooded. The Colorado State Forest Service has an excellent booklet, “Firewise Construction: Site Design and Building Materials,” that will help you with many of these concerns. Please be familiar with these issues while planning your homesite.

Potable Water

WATCO, the Ranch’s water system, provides safe, potable water to all properties on the Ranch, but it is the homeowner’s responsibility to arrange for the installation of a water tap. Please see the website for information on how to do so.


There is a County ordinance requiring homeowners to control noxious weeds on their property. There is an excellent brochure available at the Forest Service office located at 180 Pagosa St., entitled “Weeds of Southwest Colorado”, which will help in understanding and identifying these weeds. The County Extension Agent and the County Weed and Pest office are good resources to access to learn about controlling weeds.

Two good choices:  Milestone, expensive

or                          Cornbelt 4 LB Amine, works great..about $15/gal and use 2 ounces per gallon of water

both from Road and Bridge on 84, upstairs.  See Ethan

Trash Pickup

Elite Recycling and Disposal (970-731-2012 offer trash pickup and recycling on the Ranch. The alternative is to haul your trash to the County Transfer Station, which is located 2 miles south of town on Trujillo Rd.

Traffic on Ranch roads

Please be aware that the posted speed limit on Ranch roads is 20 mph. During construction, heavy trucks and construction equipment using our roads can cause serious damage, resulting in potholes and wash-boarding. Unfortunately, these trucks do not contribute to the costs involved in repairing the roads. We, the homeowners, are responsible for that. Please be sure that the contractors working on your property are aware of the speed limit and that they adhere to it.

Property Management: The POA, Water Company & Ditch & Reservoir Company: The ranch is managed by the ALR Property Owners' Association (ALRPOA), which owns and controls all community property and controls any easement areas on your lot. Our POA owns and maintains over 33 miles of roads, over 32 miles of water supply pipe, associated tanks and equipment, and 50 miles of fence and gates. Land for a future fire station was deeded to Archuleta County. The POA is staffed by unpaid volunteer property owners who are responsible for hiring any outside help needed (contractors, attorneys, etc.). POA Board members are elected by vote of the property owners at the ranch annual meeting in the first half of July each year. You may attend in person to vote, or vote by proxy. Since our ranch owns its own water system and this requires continuous management and maintenance, the property owners also elect a Water Company (WATCO) Board each year, also in July. Water Company Officers are also unpaid volunteer property owners. Routine ranch decisions are made and a great deal of work is done on your behalf by the POA Board and Water Company you elect. In addition, select property owners in Alpine Meadows and Coyote Park may own shares in the Ditch & Reservoir Company which exists to 'facilitate the cooperative use of water by the shareholders and to enforce the rights of each of them to their allocated entitlement'. The Company recognizes that water is precious in the Western United States and is a scarce commodity that enhances the value of the land to which it is applied.

The Business of Ranching: ALR is a working ranch that must support the minimum number of cattle required to qualify for County grazing exemptions. Grazing season begins on the first of May and cattle are rotated between sections of the ranch until October thirty-first when the cattle leave the ranch.  Cattle grazing on the Ranch varies from year to year. Generally there are about 175 cow/calf pairs or about 350 head on the Ranch.  Leasing our land for grazing allows property owners to reduce their property taxes. The POA includes a volunteer Grazing Committee that manages the Grazing Lease and negotiates contracts and practices to ensure that the value of our lease is optimized and that our land is managed wisely for the long term. Inclusion in the grazing program is voluntary, and since Colorado is a 'free range' state, property owners must 'fence out' their land if they do not wish to participate. The Archuleta County Tax Assessor may choose to exclude properties that are not adequately maintained to support cattle grazing.

Note: "Alpine Lakes Ranch property owners participating in the Grazing Lease Program and/or whose property maintains agricultural tax status should be aware that fencing out any portion of their property may impact their annual property taxes. Please contact the Archuleta County Assessors Office (970-264-8316) prior to fencing out any portion of your property."

Lifestyle and Recreation: The ranch offers views of the beautiful San Juan Mountains and Archuleta Mesa.  Alpine Lakes Ranch gets more than 300 sunny days a year, with average daily high temperatures (at 7,000 feet) between 44 degrees Fahrenheit in December, January and February and 79 degrees in July and August. Although winter weather is often sunny and relatively moderate in temperature, storms are not uncommon, and many areas on the ranch can average more than 100 inches of snow. Chimney Rock is just 30 minutes west of Pagosa Springs, Colorado. The ranch is 45 minutes from Wolf Creek Ski Area, and some of Colorado's best snow (Wolf Creek routinely gets 400 inches). Access to hiking, riding, biking, fishing, hunting, and other recreation is excellent. The area around Pagosa Springs boasts more than 25 waterfalls, 2 famous archeological attractions, 2 historic operational railroads, a great golf course, and hiking and cross-country skiing on the continental divide trail system. We are within easy driving distance of Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque, Denver, Durango and many national and state parks. Ranch properties are accessed via US Highway 84, Archuleta County Road 359, and our private roads. In the past five years, ranch properties have significantly increased in value.

Frequently Asked Questions

Driving on and around the Ranch

Q. Where do I get gas?

A.  Other than Pagosa, there is gas available in Dulce, NM and is sometimes cheaper, but prices vary. There is no tax in Dulce since the stations are on the Jicarilla Apache Indian Reservation; credit card is taken at the pump and the pumps are now open 24 hours. Dulce is 16 miles South (10 miles from the Elk Ridge and CR 359 gate), has a post office, good food, a grocery and a hardware store. Dulce also has a Best Western motel/restaurant/coffee shop/casino.

Q. Do I need four-wheel drive (4WD) on the Ranch?

A. 4WD vehicle is highly recommended. It could be unsafe to drive without it in some conditions in spring and winter on many of our roads. In the dry months, 4WD helps prevent "washboarding" damage to the road surface, thus increasing safety and reducing our maintenance costs. In winter, snowplowing is done when the snow reaches a height where plowing will not damage the road surface—about 6 inches or more. For this reason, most residents prefer 4WD and have chains on hand for slippery slopes.

Q. Is there a speed limit on the ranch?

A. The POA has been asked by residents to post signs requesting that drivers not exceed 20 MPH, and use four wheel drive (4WD) at all times on the Ranch. The reason for these cautions is that drivers unfamiliar with the roads have lost control and gone into the ditch due to excessive speed. People building a home on the ranch are requested to make their contractors and sub-contractors aware of the speed limit recommendation and ask them to adhere to it. Heavier vehicles that are simply driving too fast cause much of the costly damage to our roads. Excessive speed is the number one cause of wash boarding and damage to gravel roads.

Q. Driving on unpaved roads?

A. It is customary and safer to maintain your lane (stay to the right) when driving on unmarked roads including 359 and the Ranch's private roads. It is especially important when coming over a hill or around a corner.

Q. Do I need to worry about Cattle, Deer and Elk?

A. Yes, be aware that there are often cattle or wildlife on the road, so you must be prepared to stop at any time. In addition, Deer and Elk are much more common in winter when they come down from the snow-covered peaks to forage. They may also be more common crossing roads to find water at sunrise and sunset, so exercise vigilance at all times when driving. If you hit a deer or elk, contact the Department of Wildlife immediately. If you hit a cow, notify the Grazing Committee. Colliding with a large animal may be very dangerous for you and cause damage to your vehicle, so caution is always best.

Q. What is good etiquette when driving past horseback riders?

A. Slow down and give riders on horseback a wide berth. DON'T BLOW YOUR HORN.

Q. What is the custom with gates?

A. In 2006 the BOD voted to install cattle guards at all ranch entrances. The 'gates' have been moved to the side for use by pedestrians and horses. The pedestrian gates should always be latched to prevent cows from getting through. The Grazing Committee typically rotates the cattle across sections of the ranch and notifies people in advance as to where they are grazing. Use caution when driving on roads when cattle are grazing.

Q. How do I prepare for winter travel?

A. We have never had a problem with having ranch roads plowed in a reasonable time after winter storms; however, bad storms have trapped cars on the highway. The danger is that our winter weather is often sunny and mild, so people are often not prepared if really bad weather hits. Long-time Colorado residents recommend that you consider the following:

Q. Are there wild animals on the Ranch?

A. ALR is home to many wild creatures, including bears, mountain lions (also called cougar or puma), bobcats, turkeys, coyotes, porcupines, raccoons, skunks, elk, deer, marmots and an occasional rattlesnake. Birds and smaller animals are abundant. Most animals will avoid contact with humans if they know you are there. Experienced residents say that talking or wearing bells when walking helps to avoid surprising animals. Pepper spray is the "weapon of choice" when an unplanned meeting occurs with a bear or mountain lion.

Q. What about mountain lions?

A. Mountain lions can travel many miles in a day, and typically have a territory of 100 square miles or more. For this reason, not seeing one on your property for some time does not guarantee that one will not come. Here are precautions for those who live or recreate in mountain lion territory:

Q. Are my domesticated animals safe outside on the ranch?

A. No. Domesticated animals, including dogs and cats, become food for the wilder types at night. In the daytime, dogs may get skunked or "porcupined." Experienced residents don't let their pets out unless they are there to control and protect them.

Q. Are the cattle dangerous?

A. Cattle grazing on your property may include any combination of cows, calves, steers and bulls. Like wild animals, cattle may not react normally if startled, so it is wise to let them know you're there with normal conversation if their vision is blocked by trees or brush. We have not had any problem with bulls on the ranch, but it may be prudent to maintain a greater distance from them.

Q. I was told that Colorado is a "free range" state. How does this affect my property?

A. All Cattle in Colorado are free to roam on all land they can get to including roads, roadsides and your land. If you don't want them on your land, you are required to fence them out. The POA attempts to ensure that non-lease cattle are fenced off our land. You may not make any modifications to the cattle control system without permission from the POA. If you participate in the grazing lease, your land may be crossed at any time to inspect/maintain/repair ranch fences and manage the cattle.

When you build your dream house, consider fencing out the cattle around the home. If not fenced out, cattle may rub up against the house causing damage and dirt, and will certainly leave mud and cow patties by your front door. However, before fencing any cattle off any part of your land, check with the ALRPOA Grazing Committee to ensure that you and the ranch have considered any possible impact on our grazing income and tax advantaged status.

Q. What effects of high altitude do I need to know about?

A. If you are not from Colorado, remember that elevations (altitudes) on the ranch are between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. At this altitude, short exposure to direct sun can cause severe sunburns, so remember your sunscreen and lip balm. Newcomers to higher altitudes can suffer from headache, confusion, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness and anxiety. Drinking plenty of water (80 - 100 ounces per day) and allowing time to acclimate is the best defense.

You are probably also aware that cooking and baking take longer at higher altitudes. Water will boil at a lower temperature (200 degrees Fahrenheit at 6,000 feet versus 212 degrees at sea level), so you have to boil foods for longer periods to achieve the desired temperatures. Recipe adjustments (more liquid, less sugar) are also required in baking. A high altitude cookbook is a wise investment to prevent frustration.

Q. I've heard that lightning is a danger in the mountains, how do I avoid getting hit?

A. Lightning is always a concern at high elevations, particularly in late spring and summer. When hiking, get an early start and plan to get off the mountain to lower altitude by early afternoon. Most summer storms in the mountains occur soon after noon. Stay off ridges and peaks during this period.  If you are hiking and are caught in the open during a lightning storm, lay flat. 

Q. Someone has been knocking down trees on the edge of my property while I was gone.

A. Remember that there are several easements on your property and that work in these areas, such as digging to install lines, does not require your permission. Within the easement area, road and utility contractors can cut trees and brush and move dirt at will. Cut debris is not removed and is your responsibility to deal with, as you desire. The easement is 30 feet from the center of a road in each direction. There are also easements from your property lines.

Q. Aside from those I invite, who else has a right to be on my property?

A. Remember that grazing lease personnel will be moving and checking cattle on your land, and may be mounted or unmounted. Forest Rangers and certain county personnel may cross your property in the performance of their duties. As for your neighbors, POA authorized personnel have the right and responsibility to maintain fences, waterlines, easements and roads, irrigation ditches and some of these will be on or adjoining your lot.

Historically, most property owners have been quite generous with use of their unfenced property, allowing hiking, dog walking, riding horses, etc.  While there is no requirement that you allow this, as a practical matter, if your property is not fenced, it is impossible for others to know exactly where your boundaries lie.  If you do not want others to cross your property, you might consider fencing and/or placement of “no trespassing” signs.  Some other activities like hunting, riding of atv’s, etc., that may dangerous and/or more damaging to property are not permitted without specific permission of the property owner.  Other than those items mentioned in the first paragraph, no one should enter fenced portions of your property without permission. 

Q. Could I be in danger from hunters on ranch property?

A. Since the ranch borders Federal land, non-residents who hunt in the National Forest may become lost and enter your property without realizing it. You may wish to post "no hunting" or "no trespassing" signs around your property. Many of our landowners hunt, and those who live on the ranch are typically very familiar with the area and very safety conscious. However, non-resident hunter/property owners or their guests may be less familiar with private vs. public boundaries and wander onto private ranch lands. It is always wise to exercise caution when hiking during hunting season, and to wear blaze orange. By law, hunters must have permission to hunt on private property that isn't their own. During hunting season, ALRPOA issues 'placards' to property owners and/or their guests who will be parking on ranch roads to identify the vehicle as "authorized".  Since ranch roads are 'private roads' this helps to identify vehicles and minimize trespassing.

Maintaining your lot prior to building

Q. Do I need liability insurance on my vacant land?

A. The POA strongly recommends that you obtain liability insurance. This is a complex question, and it is probably best if you seek advice from your insurance underwriter and/or attorney.

Q. What are my responsibilities on the ranch as an absentee owner?

A. All property owners are responsible for paying their property taxes and also their applicable share of community expenses in the form of ALRPOA dues, Water Company assessments, and if applicable Ditch & Reservoir Company water share dues. The POA annual dues for 2019 are $1000.00 per lot. The Water Company annual assessments for 2019 are $875.00 per lot. The Ditch & Reservoir Company water share dues for 2019 are $30.00 per share.  These amounts can be expected to increase as needed. Be aware that failure to pay any of these can result in interest charges and a lien on your property. Failure to pay taxes could result in you losing your land. Make sure that the POA, Water Company, Ditch Company and County have your current address so that you get bills and legal notices. Dues are essential to maintain roads, manage the ranch and maintain the water system and irrigation, all of which protect your investment.

Q. How do property taxes and agricultural status work?

A. Taxes for a typical 35-acre lot without a residence being used only to graze cattle can be less than $20 per year. The same lot without a grazing lease, could be assessed about $4,000 to $7,000 per year in property taxes. A 35-acre lot with a completed home, that participates in the grazing lease will realize about a 25% savings on taxes. The grazing lease is a major tax advantage, especially for absentee property owners.  Questions about grazing should be directed to the Grazing Committee or the Director at Large - Grazing.

Q. What do I need to know about fire and other emergencies?

A. Firefighting! What do you do if you see a fire? You always call 911 first. Be sure to give precise and clear directions on the phone, or the call may cause more confusion than help. WE DO NOT RECOMMEND THAT YOU TRY TO FIGHT THE FIRE YOURSELF. A SMALL FIRE CAN TURN INTO A RAGING INFERNO IN A MATTER OF MINUTES. THE TIME YOU SPEND CALLING AND WAITING FOR HELP COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

Burning brush: Burning brush or building campfires may be banned in the summer by the County Fire Marshall.  A $10 burn permit must be purchased annually from Fire Station #1 in Pagosa Springs.  You must check with the Sheriff and heed applicable law or you may be heavily fined. A home burned down can be rebuilt, but people and trees are irreplaceable. Experienced residents wait until there is snow on the ground to burn their brush. The ranch does not have its own fire department and the city does not 'officially' cover our land. They will respond if they are not otherwise committed; however, response time can be up to an hour due to the distance from the nearest Fire Station. Since we border National Forest, the Forest Service can be called if there is a fire threatening their land and they will respond. The Forest Service will not fight house fires unless they threaten the forest.

Firebreaks: The Pagosa Springs City Volunteer Fire Department recommends that all homeowners create a wide firebreak around all structures on their property by removing all trees and brush. The area needs to be wide enough so that a fire truck can drive completely around your house to spray retardant in case a fire gets close to you. All owners with 35 acres are encouraged to consider cutting and maintaining a lot perimeter break as well. The space around the home is known as defensible space. You may wish to consider a home sprinkler system, which can be installed during construction for about $2 per square foot.

Fire Extinguishers: Residents should have at least one ABC type extinguisher and perhaps several fire extinguishers, as well as smoke, propane and carbon monoxide alarms in their home. Your property should be well marked with a reflective street number sign at the driveway for emergency crews. Be able to give police, fire and EMS personnel precise directions to your home, including closest intersections and mileage from US84 and CR359. Emergency crews can't help you if they can't find you, and with the distances involved, wrong turns can cause long delays.

Q. What do I do if I move, in order to change my address?

A. If you move, you must notify the ALRPOA, the ALR Water Company, the Ditch and Reservoir Company (if applicable) and the Archuleta County Tax Assessor in downtown Pagosa Springs. If you fail to pay ALR dues, assessments or county property taxes because the bills were mailed to the wrong address, you may find interest charges and/or a lien on your property.  In the case of County taxes, this can result in you losing your land.

Q. Can I have water service on my lot prior to building a house?

A. Yes, but you will have to pay for any installation costs and you will be billed for water use. Property owners are requested to turn the water off at the meter whenever you are not occupying your land. If the water is not turned off at the meter and there is a leak while you are absent, you will be fined and billed for the water wasted. The fine is $100, your meter will be locked, and damage to Water Company property, costs for labor, equipment and materials to find the leak become the responsibility of the homeowner. Contact the Water Company for connection. Water is a precious commodity since we're a desert community, so property owners should be attentive to preventing any waste.

Miscellaneous Information

Medical Emergencies:

If you have a medical emergency, dial 911. Keep in mind when calling for 911, you must be able to give them precise directions to your home from a major intersection. Your driveway must be well marked with your address. It should be clearly visible from the road in both directions. The two recommended are: green reflective rectangular number sign obtainable at the Archuleta County Building and Planning Office, or the blue reflective rectangular sign available from the Upper San Juan Hospital District located at Pagosa Fire District Office in Pagosa. The blue sign is larger and may be more effective.


Although landscaping ponds are common in many rural areas, on the ranch they are not practical in most areas. The reasons are that the ground tends to be porous and drain most areas quickly, and the watersheds necessary to fill ponds are large and may be regulated. It is very unlikely that your lot will provide enough watershed to supply a pond. Filling ponds from the "domestic water supply" is limited by Colorado law and by practical limits of available water. Even if you are able to receive a permit for an agricultural well there is no guarantee that there will be any available or usable water after you've drilled. You must research applicable laws and ensure your plans are in compliance before you start digging. Contact the water resources division in Pagosa or write: Division of Water Resources, Water Division 7, 701 Camino Del Rio, Suite 205, Durango, CO 81301. It is also recommended that you speak to the ALRPOA board.

Planning to build:

Residents recommend that you speak with a member of the ALR Water Company PRIOR to planning your water system, placement and use of cisterns, etc., as they often have advice that could save you much unnecessary work and expense. Also, speak with a POA officer to get assistance in locating your site to avoid future problems with covenants. Experience has shown that speaking to long-time residents can prevent some very expensive mistakes when it comes to planning and building your dream home. All building plans must be approved in advance by the POA.

Free advice from Building Experts:

A new website for the Builders Association of Pagosa Springs is very useful. It lists the general contractors who are members and also lists many sub-contractors via the associate members' page. There is an education page with an article called "Be informed before You Build in Rural Colorado." It contains some great information. There are also other places on the site that answer common questions that anyone building a home on the ranch might have. The address is:

Cisterns to Supply Potable Water

Many property owners in Alpine Lakes Ranch have chosen to install residential cisterns to provide an emergency supply of potable water for their homes. The Alpine Lakes Ranch Water System is very reliable yet there are times when repairs, maintenance, loss of electrical power or breaks in piping may prevent the water system from supplying water. When these situations occur having a residential cistern available is very helpful.

Typically a cistern consists of a 1500 - 1800 gallon concrete or heavy gauge plastic tank buried below ground and connected between the Alpine Lakes Ranch Water System and your home. In addition a pump, pressure tank, and control and power circuits are required. Cistern systems are commonly set-up to supply water in one of two ways:

There are other configurations for cisterns beyond these; they should be discussed with a qualified installer.

While cisterns bring a number of benefits, they also introduce potential avenues for contamination of drinking water. Consequently, the Water Quality Control Division of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment mandated that Alpine Lakes Ranch Water Company (ALR WATCO) implement policies for annual bacteriological testing of residential cisterns. Full details of this program can be obtained from the Alpine Lakes Ranch Water Company (WATCO) or from the State Certified Operator in Responsible Charge of Water System operations.

NOTE: Cisterns used for potable water supply are not the same as cisterns used to collect rain water or for wastewater/greywater reuse. A cistern that collects rain water or wastewater/greywater for reuse must NEVER be connected to a cistern intended as a potable water supply. Any such connection poses an immediate health hazard to the homeowner and potentially to the entire Alpine Lakes Ranch Water system. For further information about cisterns to supply potable water you can contact:

Alpine Lakes Ranch Water Company (WATCO)
State Certified Operator in Responsible Charge: Tom Peterson 970-264-1220

Frost: If you are moving from a warmer winter climate, remember that freezing and thawing of the ground affect construction. If you plan on putting in anything yourself, even a barbecue, educate yourself about the effects of frost on foundations, buried lines (especially water) and building interfaces.

Putting in a Driveway: Consider locating your house close to the road. Running electric, phone and water service to the house can cost tens of thousands of dollars if the trench is a long one. Driveways can cost about $15 a foot, so a 2000' drive would initially cost $30,000 or more. More important in the long run is the cost of maintaining and plowing your driveway. Maintenance is costly and needs to be done at least every 3 years. If the drive is not well constructed the first time, you may need to spend a lot of money having it repaired. Consider crossing the ditch with a 30-foot wide culvert instead of the "standard" 20-foot length. Recommended pipe diameter: minimum 18" diameter culvert. Check with the POA president before beginning any construction.

Choices in septic systems:
Septic Systems/On-Site Wastewater Treatment Systems

Homes in Alpine Lakes Ranch are required to have a residential septic/On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OSWS) approved by the San Juan Basin Health Department (SJBHD). There is no central sewage collection and treatment on the Ranch and lagoons are no longer allowed.

It is very common for septic systems to be designed by a Colorado professional in order to meet SJBHD regulations. Soil quality and the prevalence of shallow underlying rock lead to poor percolation rates while the terrain may dictate special requirements that affect location of septic discharge fields. There are a variety of OSWS systems available that can be installed to satisfy the particular conditions of a building location, meet owner preferences and assure compliance with Health Department regulations.  A new regulation requires a septic system inspection when selling a home.

More detailed information may be obtained from the following sources:

Health Department:
San Juan Basin Health Department, 970-264-2673

ALPINE Lakes Ranch Water Company (WATCO)


Water Meter Installation Procedures & Guidelines - Revised August 2019

Lawns, Gardens and Landscaping—the "Oasis Effect":

Many who move to Southern Colorado from non-desert states are used to lawns, gardens, and extensive landscaping. Many who are long-time residents in Southern Colorado recommend against these. Here are the reasons:

Insulation: Experienced residents suggest that you do a lot of research on insulation and ask neighbors prior to building, it can save you hundreds of dollars a month on propane and many headaches. Be careful of can lights, they can cause major loss of heat if not insulated properly.

Saving money on propane: If you buy your own 1,000-gallon underground propane tank (versus renting), fuel can be bought from any propane company--you can shop around. Rates are less expensive in the summer—a good time to fill-up. Most companies offer senior discounts. Underground tanks also improve lot appearance and may last longer.

Garage Doors: Get an 8-foot door rather than the normal 7 foot door.

Decks:    Consider covering your decks when building so you don't spend the winter shoveling