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Fee increase gets irrigators’ attention

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 4th, 2013

Hearing from the public during the sub-district board’s meeting on Tuesday are from left Carla Worley, Jamie Hart, Flip Paulson, Rob Phillips, Brian Brownlow, Peter Ampe and Sheldon Rockey. Courier photo by Ruth Heide

Courier editor

MONTE VISTA — After hearing comments from a standing-room-only crowd, the Sub-district #1 board of managers in a split vote yesterday decided to wait two months to act on a resolution increasing the variable fee maximum.

Currently the cap is $75 per acre foot of water pumped, assessed on irrigators within the sub-district’s boundaries, an area encompassing about 3,000 irrigation wells on approximately 174,000 irrigated acres. The sub-district board had decided to move forward with an increase in that variable fee cap to $500.

Sub-district Attorney Peter Ampe said part of that process involved a public hearing. If the board moved forward with raising the variable fee cap, the next step would be to seek approval from the sponsoring water district board, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, and ultimately the water court.

Some of the audience members during the meeting in Monte Vista on Tuesday told the sub-district board they would oppose such a course of action in court.

Before reconsidering the board’s action to go down that road, Sub-district Board President Brian Brownell prefaced Tuesday’s meeting with a statement that he was frustrated by what appeared to him to be a course of action motivated by self interest on the part of some of the board members.

He said everyone needs to be involved in solving the San Luis Valley’s water problems and no one area should be allowed to survive at the cost of drying up another. That is not the sub-district board of managers’ job, he said.

“If you don’t share this vision, I recommend you rethink why you are serving on this board,” he said.

For the complete article see the 09-04-2013 issue.

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