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Mother Nature is biggest water thief

Posted: Friday, Sep 13th, 2013

Courier editor

MANASSA — “There’s a saying on the Conejos, ‘there’s no waste of water until it hits the state line’,” Conejos Water Conservancy District Manager Nathan Coombs told members of the Rio Grande Roundtable during a water meeting hosted by the conservancy district in Manassa on Tuesday.

Although Coombs shared the statement in a light-hearted manner, he and others in the room view the matter of keeping water in Colorado seriously.

Colorado Division of Water Resources Division Engineer for Division 3 Craig Cotten reported that the Conejos River system over-delivered water to downstream states through the Rio Grande Compact this year but did not do so intentionally. The over-delivery occurred during the winter months before the irrigation season began this year.

As a result, the water office required no curtailment throughout the irrigation season on Conejos River system water users and will likely extend the irrigation season past the normal November 1st end date so more water can be kept in the San Luis Valley, Cotten explained.

“We didn’t have curtailments because of the compact,” Cotten said. “There were a lot of curtailments because we just didn’t have water but no curtailments because of the compact.”

The April 1 annual index forecast for the Conejos River system was 170,000 acre feet, Cotten said, but by the first of September it was reduced to 140,000 acre feet, with the compact obligation to downstream states comprising 16,000 acre feet of that.

The Conejos has already met that obligation and in fact will over-deliver by about another 8,000 acre feet, according to Cotten.

For the complete article see the 09-13-2013 issue.

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