“It’s been a long road, but a good one” — Steve Vandiver

Steve Vandiver enjoys a river float.
Steve Vandiver enjoys a river float.

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Matt Hildner):

A key figure in the San Luis Valley water community will step down from his post this spring.

Steve Vandiver said Friday he’ll resign as general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District in the spring.

The district will begin a formal search for his replacement in the next 10 days.

“It’s been a long road, but a good one,” he said. “It’s time for me to do some other things and let some fresh, young, energetic minds take over.”

Vandiver, who’s been the district’s general manager since 2005 and spent 24 years before that as the division engineer in the valley, said he is stepping down for personal reasons.

“There’s nothing wrong at work. I’m not unhappy with my job,” he said.

The district hopes to hire his replacement by March 1 and Vandiver will stay on for a few months to help with the transition.

“We do so many darn things that trying to sit down in a room and tell somebody in a day what they’re going to do and have them go do it isn’t going to work,” he said.

The district is in the midst of bringing as many as six new subdistricts online in the coming years.
The subdistricts levy fees on their members to help restore groundwater levels and mitigate the impacts of pumping on surface-water users.

It has also sponsored a recovery plan for a pair of federally protected birds to help farmers and ranchers avoid the more stringent provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

The district also plays a formal role in the Rio Grande Natural Area Commission, which was founded to protect a 33mile stretch of the river above the state line.

And it expects to move into a new 7,400-squarefoot building March 1.

Beyond the transition period, Vandiver hopes he can continue to represent the district in some of its external roles.

Vandiver sits on both the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable and the statewide Interbasin Compact Committee.

He also was just appointed to the state’s Water Resources and Power Authority Board, which oversees a $2 billion revolving fund for water and sewer projects.

“I’m not just going to go fishing,” he said, although he allowed that he intended to do more angling once the transition is complete.

The La Junta native came to the valley in 1973 to work at the division engineer’s office and has since been involved in valley efforts to fight off export schemes, avoid federal encroachment on water issues and regulate groundwater use.

“I’ve really come to love this place and certainly have tried my best in my positions to protect it as best I could,” he said.

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