County supports Water Rights Protection Act

ALAMOSA — Alamosa County Commissioners signed a letter of support for Congressman Scott Tipton’s Water Rights Protection Act during their meeting on Wednesday, the same day the bill passed the House.

The letter of support was first brought to their commissioners at their June 28 meeting but it was tabled so that Alamosa County Commissioner Helen Sigmond could research the act further.

“Although I’m concerned about the language in the bill in terms of not allowing for any kind of exceptions,” said Sigmond, “when I talked to [Rio Grande Water Conservation District General Manager] Cleave Simpson about it he said that he thought negotiations would still be allowed and that their support of it was with that understanding.”

The bill, which was introduced twice before but failed, would prevent the federal government from seizing control of private water rights in order to use public lands. Instead, it would require that transfer of rights be consistent with state water laws.

“I will support it but I am concerned about the overreach of the language,” Sigmond said.

“I think any time we can preserve any water in the San Luis Valley,” said Alamosa County Commissioner Michael Yohn, “it’s always a benefit to us.”

Along with the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and Alamosa County, other local organizations pledging support are the Conejos County Board of County Commissioners, San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District and the San Luis Valley Irrigation District. The National Ski Areas Association and other national groups also support the bill.