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Sub-district exceeds plan requirements

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 5th, 2013

ALAMOSA — While still waiting for judicial ruling on last year’s annual replacement plan, the San Luis Valley’s first water management sub-district is preparing a new plan for this year.

Following a trial late last year, Chief District/Water Judge Pattie Swift took contested issues regarding the first annual replacement plan under advisement. The annual replacement plan spells out how the sub-district will make up for injurious depletions to surface water rights. A contested method used last year was the Closed Basin Project. Objectors argued Closed Basin Project water was not an appropriate source of replacement water for sub-district depletions. That issue still awaits a judicial decision.

The sub-district lies in the Valley’s closed basin region and encompasses about 3,000 wells irrigating nearly 150,000 acres of crops ranging from alfalfa to potatoes.

The sub-district was required to replace about 4,700 acre feet of injurious depletions during the 2012 plan year and will end up with more than 5,000 acre feet delivered to the river, according to Rio Grande Water Conservation District Program Manager Rob Phillip. The 2012 replacement plan year ends April 30.

The replacement water averaged about 400 acre feet per month, he explained during a special sub-district meeting last week.

Rio Grande Water Conservation District Program General Manager Steve Vandiver said the sub-district basically will have over-delivered about 290 acre feet at the end of the 2012 replacement year. He said when sub-district staff develop the annual replacement plan, they are trying to guess run off, diversions, well pumping and recharge. Last year, they recalculated depletions because of the lack of diversions and made an adjustment in deliveries but then wound up over-delivering water to the river.

“The bottom line is we made our obligation,” Vandiver said. “We didn’t have any hiccups and had water in the river … every day.”

The water was either in the form of diversions or forbearance, water that could have been used by Rio Grande Canal users but was allowed to be used to help the sub-district make its obligation.

“The bottom line is we did what we said we were going to do and did it well,” Vandiver said.

The sub-district’s annual report is on the web site www.rgwcd.org

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