RWR asks Douglas County to help fund San Luis Valley Water export proposal


Renewable Water Resources (RWR), a Centennial, Colorado-based company, has submitted a proposal to Douglas County requesting $20 million in COVID-relief funds to jump start their water export plan from the San Luis Valley. The Douglas County Commissioners have held one public hearing and plan to hold at least one more in 2022.

San Luis Valley residents and statewide stakeholders need to share with the commissioners how this proposal would be detrimental to our agricultural economy and the environment by contacting the Douglas County Commissioners and the news media.

Contact information is listed below for the commissioners, and there is a link on the Protect San Luis Valley Water website which can be found at www.protectsanluisvalleywater.com with contact information for the news media. Follow updates on our Facebook page and Instagram channels.

Who is RWR?

RWR executives, which include former Governor Bill Owens and his former staff member Sean Tonner, are behind the plan to export water from the San Luis Valley. Their full list of partners is included in the proposal they submitted to Douglas County. The “team” includes former politicians, lobbyists, real estate and private equity investors who stand to make a lot of money. The company owns Rancho Rosado, just north of the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, which is where they plan to install wells to pump the deep aquifer. The stated need for the water is to support population growth and development on the Front Range.

Contact Douglas County Board of County Commissioners

To share your viewpoints with the Douglas County Commissioners, please mail them a letter, email them or call the central phone number to reach a specific commissioner.

MAIL A LETTER TO: :

Douglas County Commissioner’s Office

Commissioner NAME

100 3rd Street

Castle Rock, CO 80104

EMAIL Douglas County Commissioners at: [email protected]

CALL Douglas County Board of County Commissioners at the central phone line  (303) 660-7401

Commissioner Abe Laydon, District I. Commissioner Laydon has indicated he has not taken a position.

Commissioner George Teal, District II. Commissioners Teal has stated, “As a Douglas County commissioner, any opportunity to bring water into the county I think does bear serious consideration.”  

Commissioner Lora Thomas, District III. Commissioner Thomas has stated she does not support the RWR .

WRITE THE NEWS MEDIA 

You can submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion editorial to the Douglas County and Denver newspapers. Go to www.protectsanluisvalleywater.com/take-action for instructions and contact information.

Following are some KEY MESSAGES you may consider including in your emails and letters.

1.San Luis Valley cities, farmers and residents universally oppose the RWR proposal. The Protect our Water coalition consists of 15 water districts and entities as well as more than 20 cities and towns and over 20 conservation and environmental groups. Our group continues to grow: www.protectsanluisvalleywater.com/members

2. There is no renewable water in the SLV to export. (Go to www.protectsanluisvalleywater.com for additional information on this point.) There is no water available to be moved outside the San Luis Valley to Douglas County. Both the shallow and deep aquifers are “over-appropriated.” RWR’s statement that there are a billion acre-feet of water under the valley floor is false and has been debunked in court.

3.All water in the Valley is connected. (For more information go to https://www.protectsanluisvalleywater.com/how-we-get-our-water ) Therefore, removing water from both aquifers can reduce river and stream flows. Pumping water out of the deep aquifer can also affect water levels in the shallow aquifer. This could negatively impact the environment, including streams, rivers, fish and wildlife.

4.Agriculture is the economic driver of the San Luis Valley. The roughly 1,600 farms and ranches in the Valley account for close to $400 million in market value of products sold. Colorado is the second largest potato growing region in the U.S. Every facet of the local economy is dependent on agriculture. Water leaving the Valley will only harm the economy and every job sector. The San Luis Valley does not want ‘buy and dry for export’ to devastate our community, like what happened in Crowley County.

5.RWR’s plan faces insurmountable odds of ever getting done. The project will cost more than $1 billion to pay for the water, federal permitting, water court fees, land acquisition and easements and infrastructure costs (miles of pipeline installed over Poncha Pass to move water from the Valley to the Front Range). It’s a bad investment for Douglas County and siphoning off funds that could go to more viable water projects. RWR says it will use reservoirs that belong to Denver Water and Aurora Water, which would require agreements and contracts with these water providers that do not exist.

6.There have been several attempts to transport water out of the Valley, and all have been defeated. RWR is undermining efforts in the Valley to solve water scarcity problems locally. RWR’s project will put additional strain on the local economy, environment and communities, making successful aquifer recovery and sustainable agriculture even more challenging.

7.RWR’s $50 million community fund would be a one-time payment and will not go far. The long-term consequences of the project will damage the local agricultural economy and far outweigh any short-lived benefits of a one-time payment. It will harm our agricultural production, livelihoods and community. No one is being swayed by this payment.

8.There is no environmental “net gain” from RWR’s proposal. Their plan to add 9,000 acre feet back into the aquifer would require the dry up of an additional 10,000 acres of land in the valley. RWR would pump water out of a concentrated area that could harm area creeks and streams that flow through and near the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Baca National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis Lakes State Wildlife Areas. The Valley supports at least 13 threatened and endangered species and more than 260 species of birds, including the sandhill cranes. RWR puts all wildlife, including these threatened/endangered species, at risk. That’s why 25 environmental and conservation groups have come out in opposition.

9.RWR’s plan is outdated and out of touch with the realities of Colorado Water, climate change and drought. The era of large, expensive transbasin diversions is over. This is not a good investment and proponents/speculators are not likely to be satisfied with just 22,000 acre feet. The goal of Colorado’s Water Plan is to avoid agricultural buy and dry throughout the state and end new transbasin diversions that are not supported by all impacted basins of origin.

10.The San Luis Valley has a long history of working hard to help solve its water scarcity issues. Locals have worked collaboratively to create and implement water management plans and programs to address aquifer recovery.

For more information: (719) 589-6301 Ext: 1849  |  [email protected]

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