ALAMOSA– On Tuesday afternoon, Douglas County Commissioners are holding the first in an expected series of meetings about their bankrolling RWR’s diversion of 22,000 acre feet per year of San Luis water to Douglas County, the richest county in the state of Colorado.
Members of the public will be able to listen to the meeting (link provided below); however, there will be no capability to comment on what is being said. The meeting is scheduled to last from 2pm to 4pm.
In 2020, RWR (Renewable Water Resources) submitted a proposal to the Douglas County Commissioners, calling for the commissioners to allocate $20 million they received through the taxpayer funded American Rescue Plan to assist the company is exporting the water. That request is almost a third of the $68.2 million Douglas County received via the ARP, funding designated for the purpose of assisting communities in offsetting the negative impact to local economies, communities and businesses caused by the pandemic.
The commissioners will be meeting with the State Engineer’s Office – no individual was named in the memo - and Bruce Lytle, CEO of Lytle Water Solutions, LLC, which is located in Highlands Ranch.
Bruce Lytle is an engineer who has worked with other interests over the years trying to export water out of the Valley and is involved with RWR and their proposal.
A memo sent from Terence Quinn, Douglas County Director of Community Development, to the three Douglas County Commissioners stated that the two “entities” will meet with the board to discuss topics relevant to the review of RWR’s proposal. Lytle will give an overview of the project proposal. The State Engineer’s Office “will discuss rules of the Rio Grande Basin and other pertinent water issues related to the San Luis Valley.”
Currently, the three commissioners are split on the proposal. Commissioner Teal is in favor of spending the requested $20 million to help RWR export the water. Comments from Commissioner Thomas suggest she opposes the proposal. Commissioner Laydon claims SLV roots that go back five generations and says he is hesitant to do anything to harm the valley but “is not a fan of policies that would purport to keep people from the American Dream.”
However, Cleave Simpson, General Manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and a state senator representing District 5, is unequivocal in his opposition.
“Hopefully, this process will shed more light on the misinformation included in RWR's proposal to the Douglas County Commissioners last month,” said Simpson in a statement to the Courier. “I still find it absolutely unconscionable the Douglas County Commissioners would even consider using federal tax dollars, American Recovery Plan Act, to take resources away from one community in an effort to bolster their own futures. I don't know if other proposals will follow the same process, but the complexities of this proposal and the potential impacts are, I think, what motivated the commissioners to pursue something of a due diligence exercise.”
According to Simpson, other entities in the San Luis Valley will also be afforded an opportunity to engage with the Commissioners and their staff over the coming weeks.
The Courier will be covering the meeting with an article appearing in Wednesday’s edition. Anyone interested in listening to the meeting can do so by going to https://www.douglas.co.us/government/commissioners/commissioners-weekly-schedule/