Next moves in Water Export Proposal?

ALAMOSA — Water users across the San Luis Valley are waiting to see what will happen next with the Renewable Water Resources (RWR) export proposal.

Thus far, three public meetings with Sean Tonner of RWR have taken place in Saguache County. The proposal has also presented to the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable. Cleave Simpson, general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), said that the community’s reception of the proposal has not been favorable. He further noted that he has not visited with a single producer in the Valley that would be willing to sell their water.

Additionally, the RGWCD, the City of Alamosa, and the Town of Manassa among other entities have submitted Letters of Opposition to the proposal. The Rio Grande Basin Roundtable is organizing an effort to raise public awareness of the issue.

The proposal would involve pumping 22,000 acre- feet of water for use in the South Platte Basin. Simpson was quick to note that convincing the citizens of the Valley that the proposal would not be a good idea, is not likely to be complicated.

However, he expressed uncertainty about how the proposal might be perceived by front range consumers. He also went on to explain that the Confined Aquifer New Use Rules for Division 3 set a clear precedent that requires the replacement of water that is pumped from the aquifer.

There is also a consensus that the obstacles that RWR faces are significant because the hydrologic situation of the Rio Grande Basin is unique. Simpson is a firm believer that there are tools in place designed to address the imbalance of the basins’ water supply. “The solution doesn’t include export,” he said.

To move the proposal forward, RWR would be required to submit a filing with the Colorado Water Court and secure an “End User.” The filing has yet to take place, and the outcome of the proposal remains to be seen. Nonetheless, if or when the filing does occur, the opposition is anticipated to be significant.