San Luis Valley: Groundwater pumping advisory committee’s first meeting

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Here’s a recap of the first meeting of the State Engineer’s newly formed Rio Grande Basin Well Administration Rules Advisory Committee, from Ruth Heide writing for the Valley Courier. From the article:

[State Engineer Dick Wolfe] said he hopes to submit well regulations to the water court by the end of the year. He said the involvement of the public and the advisory committee members will be key to developing a set of rules that will accomplish what the state has to achieve with the least harm to the Valley. “We want to look for the common interests,” Wolfe said.

The rules will pertain to wells in the Rio Grande Basin larger than 50 gallons per minute. Well owners who do not join a sub-district or put together their own plans of augmentation will be curtailed, Wolfe warned.

Over the next several months the advisory committee will help Wolfe’s office develop rules that protect senior water rights, encourage use of groundwater management sub-districts and work out some of the details governing those sub-districts, protect the Rio Grande Compact, set irrigation season beginning and ending time periods and maintain sustainability of the basin’s aquifers, among other duties. The sustainability portion of the rules is unique to this basin, Wolfe said.

The Thursday meeting was the first of what will likely be monthly meetings of the group. The advisory committee will meet again on Thursday, April 9, at 1 p.m. at the Inn of the Rio Grande in Alamosa…

The Thursday meeting was primarily an introductory meeting with Deputy State Engineer Michael Sullivan providing a historical perspective to the well regulations and Wolfe asking members of the advisory committee to share their perspectives on what they hoped the rules would accomplish…

Tim Buchanan, a senior water rights attorney on the committee, said although the rules will be developed in as cooperative and inclusive manner as possible, they will ultimately lead to some tough choices because there is not enough water for every use.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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