Over the past month a number of your ranching neighbors in northern Saguache County have written letters to the Water Resources Legislative Review Committee with our concerns about the unregulated pumping of groundwater, the destruction of ecosystems and landscape, as well as our diminishing aquifer. Every other water division in Colorado has rules and regulations in place which fine-tune the Colorado Statutes for the state engineer’s administration of groundwater pumping.
The recently published Headwaters Magazine (by Colorado Foundation for Water Education) features the San Luis Valley and our water crisis. One of the articles is entitled “Water In the Bank” referring to reservoirs up high in the watershed. Aquifers and their sub-basins provide underground storage, another form of banking water, less likely to evaporate. The mountains with their capacities to store water in cracks, crevices, soils, and in the San Juans to our west, the volcanic nature of the rocks. It is these water banks that are being robbed or embezzled. We’d like to see that stopped.
As a result of our letters, we have been invited to the state capitol to discuss our issues with the legislative committee designated for water resources on September 26 regarding what we feel is the long-term lack of management of valley waters. Many of us have written letters or spoken to appointed leaders of these governmental entities for years and have been ignored, dismissed as inaccurate, or bull-dozed with the current opinions of those touting the “science” of political hydrology. It is a very heavy-handed game being played by the “experts.”
Loss of habitat for waterfowl, wildlife, and ranching neighbors with domestic livestock will likely result in sales of smaller tracts of land, lots of houses scattered across the landscape, more demand on county services. Every house will have a well but will only be allowed domestic use, aquifer recharge will consist of septic system filtrate, and if you think government-held lands will stand up for your water rights, dream on. Agency personnel may be sympathetic, but stand to be transferred or lose their jobs if they assert opinions publicly. Keep in mind their government salaries and pensions are not at risk when conditions deteriorate on the landscape they manage. Only private landholders live the risks and losses.
Letters can be sent in care of staffer David Beaujon to firstname.lastname@example.org or snail mail to Colorado Legislative Council, Room 029 State Capitol, Denver 80203. I would like a copy of your letter sent or forwarded to email@example.com so that if you are unable to attend, those of us who go can represent your interests and concerns.