2011 Colorado legislation: State Senator Gail Schwartz to sponsor bill that will allow the State Engineer to approve groundwater sub-district management plans as substitute water supply plans in the San Luis Valley

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From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Steve Vandiver, manager for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District that is sponsoring the water management sub-districts in the Valley, explained the pending legislation to Rio Grande Roundtable members during their meeting on Tuesday…

He said the state engineer’s office and attorney general’s office requested the bill, which adds a phrase or two to existing legislation regarding substitute water supply plans. Vandiver said the current statute allows the state engineer to approve temporary operation of an augmentation plan or rotation crop management contract that has been filed with the water court, but the court has not yet issued a decree. The state engineer can approve the temporary operation of those plans until the decree is completed, Vandiver explained. The proposed legislation would add wording allowing the state engineer to do the same thing with sub-district water management plans. Under the proposed legislation, the state engineer could approve temporary operation of a groundwater management plan as a substitute water supply plan as long as the state engineer has approved the groundwater management plan application, judicial review of that approval has been filed with a water court and the court has not issued a decree…

Otherwise, [Vandiver] explained, the groundwater rules the state engineer is currently finalizing could become effective while water management plans are hung up in court, and all of the people who were relying on those plans to cover them might suddenly find their wells shut off.

Several proposed water management sub-districts, separated by Valley hydrology and geography, are in various stages of development. The sub-districts are designed to make up depletions to surface water rights and the aquifer as a whole, at least in part through reduction in irrigated acreage within the sub-district boundaries.

More San Luis Valley groundwater coverage here and here.

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