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Willett named to water committee

Posted: Thursday, Feb 5th, 2009


MANASSA—The Conejos Water Conservancy District is the latest County organization to name a representative to become a part of State Water Engineer Dick Wolfe’s proposed well water rules committee. Michael Willett, president of the CWCD has been nominated to the position, but the State has not announced a final list of members of the water advisory committee.

Wolfe has asked various organizations in the San Luis Valley to provide approximately 40 people to form a committee to advise him on formulating rules and regulations concerning water wells in the Valley. Wolfe wants reps from all six counties and all of the area’s organizations concerned with water, particularly that used for irrigation.

The Conejos Water Conservancy District, with offices at the corner of Fourth and Main, in Manassa, includes more than 100 large volume irrigation wells, dozens of irrigation ditch companies, and more than 100,000 acres of farm land using wells and/or surface water rights for irrigation. The District contains the Conejos and San Antonio Rivers.

District Manager Bob Robins said a major reason the district wants to participate is to control the cost of litigation. Robins echoed the comments of John Shawcroft, an official with the Alamosa and La Jara Creek Water Conservancy District who stated recently that Valley water users spend large amounts of money every year on court battles over water use.

Robins stated that the CWCD spends between $60,000 and $80,000 every year on legal fees. He said the cost to the district in the last year was $60,898 and the district recently spend $90,000 to have legal representation during court proceedings held to create water sub-district number one. That sub-district, covering the Rio Grande Basin, north of the Rio Grande River is the first water sub-district in the State. A court fight has been going on over rules and regulations for the new sub-district and water court judge O. John Kuenhold recently stated he would most likely remand rules proposed for the sub-district back to the Rio Grande Water Conservancy District, which sponsored the creation on the state’s first water sub-district.

To read more of this article, please see the Feb. 4 issue of the Conejos County Citizen.

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