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Valley sub-district objectors clarify positions

Posted: Thursday, Oct 11th, 2012

Courier editor

ALAMOSA — Objectors to the San Luis Valley’s first sub-district plan clarified their positions to the court on Tuesday.

Chief District Judge Pattie Swift, who is presiding over the sub-district case, had given objectors until the end of Tuesday to let her know which claims they still wanted to pursue or dismiss and on what conditions.

Swift had told objectors they could withdraw claims specific to the 2012 sub-district annual replacement plan without having to pay attorney fees and costs for the other side, because they would not be able to bring those claims back in the future. Claims not specific to this year, but regarding broader issues regarding the sub-district, could be dismissed with prejudice or the objectors would have to pay reasonable attorney fees and costs.

On Tuesday, attorney Erich Schwiesow, representing Costilla Ditch Company, told the court the ditch company would not be withdrawing any claims prior to trial.

The claims still remaining for the Costilla Ditch Company involve the use of Closed Basin Project as a source of replacement water for the sub-district, with the ditch company arguing that use is not appropriate; the use of the Centennial Ditch to carry replacement water through dry reaches of the river, with the ditch company arguing that is not appropriate; and the timing of replacement releases in small increments, again with the ditch company arguing that is not appropriate.

Other objectors include the San Antonio, Los Pinos and Conejos River Acequia Preservation Association, Save Our Senior Water Rights, Richard Ramstetter and Peter Atkins.

Their attorneys told the court on Tuesday all of the claims they had asked to withdraw were specific to the 2012 plan, so they would ask that all claims that the court had not already dismissed and were raised in the invocation of retained jurisdiction earlier this year be dismissed with prejudice, except issues still pending before the court.

The pending motions revolve around augmentation plan wells, Closed Basin Project water, expert witnesses and a special master appointment. The judge will take up some of those matters during an October 24 hearing. A trial is still scheduled to begin October 29.

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