Saguache rancher hopes to export water from the San Luis Valley to the Front Range

San Luis Valley Groundwater
San Luis Valley Groundwater

From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):

Saguache County rancher Gary Boyce may be planning another water export project. Although Boyce has not yet filed any documents with the water court, he has met with representatives of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD), and that board held a special meeting to discuss Boyce’s proposal. The board unanimously voted not to support Boyce in any potential water export project.

During Wednesday’s Alamosa city council meeting, Alamosa Mayor Josef Lucero read a letter from RGWCD Board Member Lewis Entz who shared initial information about the project.

Entz related in the letter that in mid-June RGWCD Attorney David Robbins and RGWCD General Manager Steve Vandiver met with Boyce and Boyce’s attorney. At that June 14 meeting Boyce informed Robbins and Vandiver that he planned to file an application to withdraw 35,000 acre feet per year from the confined aquifer on his Saguache area property and export it to the Front Range where it would be sold as a permanent renewable water supply. According to Entz’s letter read at the city meeting, Boyce told RGWCD representatives his application was imminent. With the RGWCD’s blessing, he would create a SLV assistance fund of $150 million that would be distributed to local governments and schools as well as the water conservation district.

On June 18 the RGWCD board held a special meeting to discuss Boyce’s proposal , and the board voted unanimously to reject Boyce’s proposal.

Entz’s letter that Lucero shared with the council stated that so far Boyce has not filed anything in water court, so the RGWCD board does not know what the application would look like, who would be providing financing and what Front Range water users would be receiving the water.

“It seems like the water wars are going to start again,” Mayor Lucero said.

On Thursday, Vandiver confirmed that Boyce had met with Robbins and him, and the board had held a special meeting during which it voted unanimously not to accept Boyce’s offer of money from his potential project and not to support his project.

“We haven’t heard another word from him,” Vandiver said.

Vandiver added that two years ago Boyce also talked about another export project , but nothing was filed then or followed through, so he did not know if Boyce would actually move forward on this proposal or not.

“We have not seen any filings and so we don’t know if Gary was trying to see if we could get bought.”

Vandiver said he did not want “to get in front of the train” at this point, since Boyce has not filed anything .

“There has been nothing concrete or in writing that it’s going to happen,” Vandiver said. “We are hoping it’s just some pipe dream.”

More Rio Grande River Basin coverage here.

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