Standing room only at Subdistrict No. 1 Summit

Farmers pack the Tequila Star restaurant in Monte Vista for the Subdistrict No. 1 Summit on Wednesday./Photo courtesy of Marisa Fricke, RGWCD

MONTE VISTA — More than 155 farmers crowded into Tequila Star restaurant in Monte Vista for the Subdistrict No. 1 Summit held on Wednesday January 16.

The summit was held to inform farmers of the impact 2018 had on the unconfined aquifer. Subdistrict No. 1 Program Manager Marisa Fricke presented facts on aquifer, pumping and recharge levels and stressed the importance on how if Valley residents don’t act now, the subdistrict is faced with the very real possibility of wells being curtailed in the very near future by the state engineer.

Fricke said, “Even with the current snowfall, our basin has the lowest snowpack in the state and we have to keep in mind the 230,000 acre foot hole we are climbing out of from 2018.” 

Brian Brownell, president of the Board of Managers for Subdistrict No.1, requested that everyone look at their farming practices to see how and where they could make reductions, creative alternatives, or consider enrolling into the CREP and fallow programs that offers large incentives for water retirement.

Several local banks and insurance agencies were also present to understand the situation. Subdistrict No. 1 has large economic impacts on the valley and the success of the Subdistrict is hinging on recovering the aquifer to a sustainable level.

“I was floored by the turn out for the summit. It is a true testament that we are all understanding of what is at stake and how collectively we can turn this situation around,” Fricke said.

Rio Grande Water Conservation District General Manager Cleave Simpson added, “Producers in Subdistrict No. 1 and other subdistricts along the broader community should have a renewed sense of urgency for this irrigation season in particular and the longer term general health of our aquifer systems.”

More information on conservation programs can be found on the Rio Grande Water Conservation website or by calling Fricke at (719) 589- 6301.