DWR reminds water community about new Groundwater Use Rules
ALAMOSA- The time for water users to ensure that they comply with the State's newly
established Groundwater Use Rules is growing short.
Water Judge Pattie Swift entered a ruling making the Rules effective as of March 15,
2019. This set timelines for compliance in motion. By March 15, 2021, all wells subject
to the Rules must be operating under a Special Improvement District (“Subdistrict”) or
be participating in a plan for augmentation. Wells that have not accomplished that will
be issued a cease-and-desist order.
It is critical that well owners contact the Subdistrict they plan to participate with as soon
as possible because each Subdistrict has their own timelines for accepting contracts.
Depending on the Subdistrict, the deadline may be as early as next month.
The Office of the State Engineer has made it clear that the rules will apply to all
withdrawals of groundwater within Water Division No. 3 unless such withdrawals are
specifically exempted. The only wells that are exempted from the rules are domestic
wells, livestock wells, fire wells, some small commercial wells, and wells used only for
groundwater monitoring. While Division Engineer Craig Cotten expressed confidence
that most users are working towards compliance, he stressed that all non- exempt wells
would fall under the same requirements, including those operated by municipalities and
for most commercial purposes.
Cotten acknowledged the DWR does not want anyone to be surprised by the upcoming
deadlines. ”Our office has tried to send courtesy notice letters to the majority of Non-
Exempt well owners over the last couple of years, but we likely have not reached
everyone,” he said. However, he made it clear that once the deadline has passed,
anyone with a non-exempt well who is still not in compliance will be issued an order to
cease the use of that well.
Cotten concluded that his office’s goal is to have as smooth of a transition as possible
into this new groundwater administration.
Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to contact the DWR's Alamosa office.