San Luis Valley: Second round in court for first groundwater sub-district

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Attorneys for proponents on Monday told the judge they had complied with his February order and revised the management plan. The state engineer’s office and sponsoring water district approved the amended plan this summer.

Opponents said they still had concerns with the plan, primarily regarding provisions to protect senior water rights, and argued that the amended plan did not comply with the judge’s February order. Three attorneys, Atencio, Erich Schwiesow and Tim Buchanan, represent the senior water users who still oppose the management plan.

Kuenhold has set aside the better part of three weeks for the trial, but RGWCD Attorney David Robbins told the judge on Monday he hoped to finish it in two weeks. He said he plans to call six or seven witnesses, and the state attorney general’s office plans to call two, State Engineer Dick Wolfe and Deputy State Engineer Michael Sullivan. Robbins said many of those involved in the water management effort, including one of his potential witnesses, were still involved in harvest.

The opening arguments consumed the morning of the first day, and the trial progressed no further than the first witness by the end of the day. Vandiver remains on the stand for cross-examination this morning as the trial enters its second day.

Vandiver testified about the process and progression of the revised management plan.

In his opening argument, Robbins said the sub-district water management plan is the culmination of seven years of efforts on the part of numerous volunteers who are trying to solve the Valley’s water problems in an innovative way, self-regulation. “The board of managers wasn’t thrilled to have had to do this, but they believe it’s the right thing to do. They believe it has to be done.”

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here.

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