Abstract Water

Protect our Water

FROM A RECKLESS TRANS-BASIN WATER DIVERSION ATTEMPT

Stay involved in the fight to stop water removal from the San Luis Valley

Agua es Vida -- Water is Life 

Take Action

Douglas County Commissioners need to hear from you by the end of February! The sooner the better. 

Template and Talking Points Below

Your voice matters! The Douglas County commissioners want to hear from YOU in regards to the Renewable Water Resources (RWR) proposal. People across the Valley and around the state are joining together to fight the proposal that would export water from the San Luis Valley to Douglas County.

 

Our goal is to send over 1,000 letters from people like you who care about the Valley, our public lands and maintaining intact ecosystems. Send them an email or a letter with your thoughts.

 

Join in the struggle for common sense!

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Wild Cherry Creek, Moffat CO

RWR Proposal 

Here is the latest on the Renewable Water Resources Plans (RWR) to take water from the San Luis Valley and Export it to Douglas County.

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Blanca Wetlands, Alamosa County

Douglas County Contact Information

Email Douglas County Commissioners at:

ALaydon@douglas.co.us

GTeal@douglas.co.us

bocc@douglas.co.us  

ARPA@douglas.co.us 

 

OR

Mail a letter to:

Douglas County Commissioner’s Office

Commissioner NAME

100 3rd Street

Castle Rock, CO 80104

OR

Call the central phone line to reach the Commissioners listed below: (303) 660-7401

Please make sure you also send us a copy of your letter to us: info@slvec.org 

 

More information 719-589-1518   

Tell your friends! Get at least two of them to write a letter. Host a letter writing party! If you are a teacher, consider encouraging your students to write letters!

Duck Lake, Rio Grande National Forest

All SLV location photos taken by Isabel Lisle

Douglas County Commissioners Meetings

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Rio Grande, Riparian Park, Alamosa CO

Listen in and ask questions! The Douglas County Commissioners are hosting weekly work sessions on the RWR proposal. You can watch these meetings online.

1. Monday, January 24 at 1pm – Colorado Water Law

 

2. Monday, January 31 at 2pm – San Luis Valley Water Impacts

 

3. Monday, February 7 at 2pm – San Luis Valley Economic Impacts

 

4. Wednesday, February 23 at 9am – Environmental Impacts

 

5. Monday, February 28 at 1pm – Front Range Impacts

 

6. Saturday, March 26, Ski Hi Park San Luis Valley Meeting - CANCELLED! 

Douglas County Commissioners

  • Commissioner Abe Laydon, District I - has indicated he has not taken a position.

  • Commissioner George Teal, District II - has stated, “As a Douglas County commissioner, any opportunity to bring water into the county I think does bear serious consideration.”   

  • Commissioner Lora Thomas, District III - has stated she does not support the RWR proposal.

WRITE!

WE HIGHLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO USE THE FACTS BELOW TO HELP DRAFT A LETTER.
SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR COMPLETE TEMPLATE. 

Dear ________________ (address to: Commissioner Abe Laydon, George Teal, or Lora Thomas)

Regarding: RWR Proposal 

My name is _(name)___________ and I live in  ____(town, state)_______ . 

I urge you to reject the proposal from Renewable Water Resources (RWR). 

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO USE THE FACTS BELOW this template FOR ASSISTANCE

  1. Tell your story. 

    1. Why do you care about this issue? 

    2. Why is the SAN LUIS VALLEY important to you? 

    3. Why IS water important FOR THIS REGION? 

 

  1. How would this proposal impact (choose one):

    1. Your community?

    2. The environment?

    3. The economy? 

    4. The state of Colorado? 

 

  1. List 3 REASONS WHY THIS RWR PROPOSAL DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO YOU.  

    1. Reason 1

    2. Reason 2

    3. Reason 3

 

  1. List an alternate solution the Douglas County Commissioners NEED TO BE LOOKING AT in terms of responsible water acquisition. 

    1. I urge you to explore more responsible water projects such as the Platte Valley Water PartnershipPlatte Valley Water Partnership

    2. Look at what other cities like Austin, TX have done to develop plans and practical water solutions for fast population growth. 

    3. Other, LIKE PROTECTING OPEN SPACE IN DOUGLAS COUNTY, PLANNING FOR GROWTH, INSTEAD OF what is happening now, letting HOUSING DEVELOPERS, with inadequate water rights, RUN COUNTY DECISION MAKING.

 

Thank you for your consideration, 

Respectfully, 

____(name)_________________

______(job title optional)______________

Address (optional) or town is sufficient

Following are some key messages you may consider including in your emails and letters:

Facts

Water Export

1. The RWR plan would divert 22,000 acre feet of water per year, in perpetuity, out of the San Luis Valley to Douglas County. Right now, Douglas County is the 6th wealthiest County in the United States. This is an Environmental Justice issue!

 

2. The RWR proposal calls for the commissioners of Douglas County to allocate $10 million of Douglas County discretionary funds to assist the company in exporting the water.

3. There is no renewable water in the SLV to export. There is no water available to be moved outside the San Luis Valley to Douglas County.

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La Jara Reservoir

SLV Wetland Habitats

 1. Whether it is for nesting, breeding, feeding, or resting, all species that migrate through the San Luis Valley depend on the region’s wetlands. Wetlands are highly productive ecosystems that exist in low-lying depressions in the terrain.

 

2. Wetlands are often referred to as the “kidneys” of the earth because they filter out pollutants, excess nutrients, and sediment from surface waters.

 

3. Wetlands are also essential to the recharging of groundwater and protection against flooding and erosion events.

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White Faced Ibis

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Willow Flycatcher

4. Wetlands are both the Valley’s most valuable and vulnerable ecosystems. While only representing 2% of Colorado’s total area, wetland and riparian habitats support over 80% of wildlife species throughout their lives (Wetland Dynamics, p 36, 2019).

5. Wetlands are believed to be the most imperative habitats for birds that are classified as “at-risk” (Rondeau et al., pg. 93). In other words, Colorado’s most threatened species are also most reliant on wetland ecosystems.

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Lobatos Bridge, San Luis

6. Due to reduced precipitation, severe droughts, earlier peak runoff, unsustainable agricultural practices, and high demands from water users, wetlands in the SLV have suffered.

 

7. Wetland Dynamics, a small women owned business committed to the conservation of critical SLV ecosystems, reports that nearly half of the Valley’s total wet acres have been lost since the 1980’s (pg. 80). With water use continuing to exceed supply, conservation of local water resources will be instrumental to restoring and protecting these habitats.

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Blanca Wetlands

Drought

1. The San Luis Valley receives less precipitation than nearly any other region in Colorado.

 

2. Between July 2019 and July 2020 the valley’s unconfined aquifer, which is fed by the Rio Grande River, dropped by 112,600 acre-feet. 

 

3. The state of Colorado has Rio Grande water delivery compact obligations to the downstream states of New Mexico, who have obligations to Texas, who have obligations to the Country of Mexico. Tensions are already brewing around Elephant Butte Reservoir, in southern New Mexico, where storage is at 7.3% of capacity.

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Stream near Elk Creek, Conejos County

Environmental Impact

1. There is no environmental "net gain" from RWR's proposal. Their plan to add 9,000 acre feet back into the aquifer would require them to eventually develop 'buy and dry' programs across the entire San Luis Valley.  

 

2. RWR would pump water out of a concentrated area that will harm nearby creeks and streams that flow through the Baca National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Areas.

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3. The Valley supports at least 13 threatened and endangered species and more than 260 species of birds, including the sandhill cranes. RWR puts all wildlife, including these threatened/endangered species, at risk. That's why 25 environmental and conservation groups have come out in opposition.

Endangered Yellow Billed Cuckoo Bird

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Sandhill Crane

4. All water in the Valley is connected. Therefore, removing water from both aquifers can reduce river and stream flows. Pumping water out of the deep aquifer can also affect water levels in the shallow aquifer. This could negatively impact the environment, including streams, rivers, fish and wildlife.

Opposition

1. San Luis Valley cities, farmers and residents universally oppose the RWR proposal. The Protect our Water coalition consists of 15 water districts and entities as well as more than 20 cities and towns and over 20 conservation and environmental groups. Our group continues to grow. 

2. RWR's plan is outdated and out of touch with the realities of Colorado Water, climate change and drought. The era of large, expensive transbasin diversions is over. This is not a good investment and proponents/speculators are not likely to be satisfied with just 22,000 acre feet.

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North Crestone Lake, Crestone CO

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Elk Creek, Conejos County

3. The goal of Colorado's Water Plan is to avoid agricultural 'buy and dry' throughout the state and end new transbasin diversions that are not supported by all impacted basins of origin.

 

4. There have been several attempts to transport water out of the Valley, and all have been defeated. RWR is undermining efforts in the Valley to solve water scarcity problems locally. RWR's project will put additional strain on the local economy, environment and communities, making successful aquifer recovery and sustainable agriculture even more challenging.​

Economic Impact

1. RWR's plan faces insurmountable odds of ever getting done. The project will cost billions of dollars to pay for the water when you figure in federal permitting, water court fees, land acquisition and easements and infrastructure costs (miles of pipeline installed over Poncha Pass to move water from the Valley to the Front Range).

 

2. It's a bad investment for Douglas County, and siphoning off funds that could go to more viable water projects. RWR says it will use reservoirs that belong to Denver Water and Aurora Water, which would require agreements and contracts with these water providers that do not exist.

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Elk Creek, Conejos County

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De Vargas Crossing, Justice and Heritage Academy, Antonito, CO

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3. RWR's $50 million community fund would be a one-time payment and will not go far. The long-term consequences of the project will damage the local agricultural economy and far outweigh any short-lived benefits of a one-time payment. 

4. Agriculture is the economic driver of the San Luis Valley. The roughly 1,600 mostly family-owned farms and ranches in the Valley account for close to $400 million in market value of products sold. Colorado is the second largest potato growing region in the U.S. Every facet of the local economy is dependent on agriculture. Water leaving the Valley will only harm the economy and every job sector. The San Luis Valley does not want 'buy and dry for export' to devastate our community, like what happened in Crowley County.

Rio Grande River, Del Norte

 

Dear ________________ (address to: Commissioner Abe Laydon, George Teal, or Lora Thomas)

Regarding: RWR Proposal 

 

In the interest of conserving natural resource balance within the San Luis Valley (SLV) and Douglas County, I urge you to reject the proposal from Renewable Water Resources (RWR). 

I understand that water is scarce. That is true throughout the entire southwest United States. The already meager amount of water is declining even more due to long term drought. The forecast for the future is for less precipitation, not more, in all western river basins. 

The RWR plan to redistribute a scarce water supply to Douglas County from the Rio Grande Basin, via pipeline, is short sighted and a threat to natural resources, and the agricultural economy of the San Luis Valley.  The RWR proposal is using an enormous amount of Douglas County's valuable time and resources. Simultaneously, the result of implementing the proposal would have tremendous economic, environmental, and social impacts on San Luis Valley's community values. 

The San Luis Valley is a high mountain desert. The reserves of water are being depleted by drought and overuse already. The ecosystem is delicately balanced, supporting wildlife and riparian areas. The nearly twenty year drought has stressed these resources, along with the agricultural economy, the aquifers, and the vast 3.1 million acres of public lands. Millions of citizens across this state and Country come to enjoy places such as The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, the Rio Grande National Forest, the San Luis Valley Wildlife Refuges, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands.

 

The RWR proposal does not consider the needs of the San Luis Valley. The water reserves/recharge in the aquifers are inaccurately defined, the negative impacts on a variety of communities and commerce ignored, and the costs grossly underestimated.

I urge you to explore more responsible water projects such as the Platte Valley Water Partnership, or consider water efficiency solutions such as reclaimed water systems, water recovery programs, and water efficiency requirements that would benefit your community. 

Water and Sanitation Districts throughout Douglas County have submitted proposals for ARPA funds that require serious consideration. How much valuable time do you have to spend on RWR? Look at what other cities like Austin, TX have done to develop plans and practical water solutions for fast population growth. 

Please be pragmatic, represent your constituency and dismiss the RWR proposal. This scheme will not foster a long term solution for Douglas County nor can it benefit the high mountain desert needs of the San Luis Valley.

 

Sincerely, 

__________

Template

(we highly recommend telling your own story first, the template is a GUIDE)

While you're at it... Contact the News Media 

You can submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion editorial to the Douglas County and Denver newspapers.

Douglas County News Press and all associated publications
OP/ED: Submit 750 – 800 words to Thelma Grimes at tgrimes@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to letters@coloradocommunitymedia.com

Colorado Sun
OP/ED: Submit 750 – 800 words to Editor Larry Ryckman at larry@coloradosun.com or (303) 900-5786
Letter to Editor: Submit 300 words to opinion@coloradosun.com

Denver Gazette
OP/ED: Submit 700 – 800 words to Dan Njegomir at dan.njegomir@gazette.com or (720) 220-5891, or online at https://denvergazette.com/opinion/submit
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to Dan Njegomir at dan.njegomir@gazette.com or (720) 220-5891, or online at https://denvergazette.com/opinion/submit

 

Denver Post
OP/ED: Submit 650 – 700 words to Lee Ann Colacioppo at lcolacioppo@denverpost.com or (303) 954-1754
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to openforum@denverpost.com or (303) 954-1331, or online at https://www.denverpost.com/submit-letter

 

Pueblo Chieftain
OP/ED: Submit 500 words to Luke Lyons at  llyons@chieftain.com or (719) 544-0166
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to llyons@chieftain.com

Important Links

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Zapata Falls 

Orient Land Trust 

They have put together some excellent resources and information regarding the RWR proposal. Check out sample letter templates and learn about ways to contact the Douglas County commissioners. 

Protect SLV Water 

More information about efforts to combat the latest SLV water effort attempt. 

Social Media: Stay Updated!

Real time information and updates about the RWR Proposal. Follow us for a compilation of articles and news stories with information about the proposal and the opposition to the plan. 

San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council 
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Protect SLV Water
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Orient Land Trust 
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Alamosa Citizen 
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By: Isabel Lisle. Communications Manager

Isabel@slvec.org