San Juan Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

San Juan River from Wolf Creek Pass

From The Pagosa Sun (Chris Mannara):

Following an executive session, the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) Board of Directors voted to take action on some water rights issues, as well as a potential contract offering.

The SJWCD board entered one executive session to discuss two separate items. One item dealt with legal advice pertaining to questions involving water rights, district contracts and strategic plan preparation…

Upon returning from extensive executive session and calling the meeting back into public session, Porco noted that no decisions were made in the executive session.

However, Porco then asked for a motion to file a statement of opposition in a water case involving Bootjack Ranch.

That motion was approved unanimously by the SJWCD board. According to Kane in an email to The SUN, in December of 2018, the SJWCD authorized its legal counsel to file a statement of opposition in a water rights case filed by Bootjack Ranch LLC.

According to Kane, Bootjack Ranch is now requesting several new water rights, as well as a plan for augmentation.

This plan involves what Kane referred to as “release water,” which is stored in a pond to replace depletions from its other water rights.

“To have adequate time to evaluate the potential for those water rights and the plan for augmentation and to have standing to protect its water rights from injury, the Board authorized its counsel to file a statement of opposition by the February 28 deadline so that it can be a party to the case,” Kane explained.

“I think it’s needed so that we can protect our water rights,” Pfister said at the meeting.

Also following the executive session, Porco called for a motion to offer a contract to Lewis “and authorize Mr. Pfister to begin ne- gotiations with her.”

That motion was also unanimously approved by the SJWCD board.

Regarding future negotiations with Lewis, Kane explained that SJWCD authorized Pfister to propose a contract that was similar to the original one that had her assisting the SJWCD with its strategic planning.

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

Another item that required a motion following the executive session pertained to SJWCD’s legal counsel to withdraw a statement of opposition for the Lovato case.

“I move that we authorize legal counsel to file our withdrawal of our statement of opposition in the Lovato case,” Pfister said.

That motion also carried unanimously.

The Lovato case is a case that was filed in the Rio Grande Basin in 2010, Kane explained in the follow- up email.

“The application originally involved use of a water right for a transbasin diversion from a stream tributary to the San Juan River, known as the Treasure Pass Ditch,” Kane wrote.

Initially, the SJWCD filed a statement of opposition in order to gain standing to protect its water rights from injury, Kane further explained.

“In September, the applicant decided to withdraw the claim involving the Treasure Pass Ditch. With that claim removed, the Board decided that it had no further interest in the case, so it authorized its counsel to file a notice of withdrawal so that SJWCD will no longer be a party to that case,” Kane added.

The notice of withdrawal will be filed sometime this week, Kane noted.

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