From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):
A few days ago the Valley reached another milestone in its sub-district journey with Wolfe’s expectation letter telling the sub-district and its sponsoring district the Rio Grande Water Conservation District how much replacement water must be delivered this year — 5,000 acre feet.
Rio Grande Water Users Engineer Jim Slattery clarified the 5,000 acre feet is the amount of depletions a groundwater model determined must be replaced this year, but it does not begin to replenish the Valley’s greatly reduced aquifer.
Wolfe said the first sub-district must submit a plan to the state by April 15 that includes the specified water replacement amount, and the state will hold a public hearing in April before acting on the plan. The sub-district’s plan must be updated and approved annually…
The groundwater model Slattery and other engineers and scientists have spent countless hours developing is designed to help sub-districts determine how much water they need to replace, and until recently the model was not calibrated to a point where that number could be specified.
Wolfe said now that the groundwater model is refined enough to provide specific data about the kind of water replacements required in the Rio Grande Basin, the first sub-district and several other sub-districts in various stages of formation can move forward more rapidly.
In addition, Wolfe and a large advisory group can begin moving forward again on groundwater rules and regulations for the Rio Grande Basin. The well rules advisory group has not met since last August but will resume its meetings soon, Wolfe said.
His goal is to submit well regulations to the water court before the end of the year. How long between his promulgation of the rules to their implementation will depend on how many objections there are to the rules and whether or not a trial becomes necessary, he said. Wolfe said in similar regulation promulgations in other basins in the state, the time frame was about a year between the time the rules were submitted to the court and implemented.