U.S. Water News Online
ALAMOSA, Colo. -- Expansion of the amount of land used for
agriculture in the San Luis Valley has strained water supplies to the
point where cutbacks are necessary, the state water engineer said.
State engineer Hal Simpson and David Robbins, attorney for the Rio
Grande Water Conservation District, told a group of water-district
officials the valley needs a 10 percent drop in agricultural acreage
to protect dwindling aquifers.
Without a reduction of at least 50,000 acres from the 500,000
acres in agriculture, the valley could see a collapse of the aquifer
walls, making it impossible for the aquifer to store water.
Simpson said his office is carefully monitoring the system and
does not plan to grant any new water appropriations.
Simpson said during a recent meeting of the San Luis Valley
Association of Conservation Districts that a new state law should
give his office the flexibility to manage conflicting demands on the
valley's diminishing water supplies.
The state engineer is required to ensure that local users receive
the water they are entitled to while ensuring that the state meets
its obligations to provide enough water to New Mexico and Texas under
the Rio Grande Compact.
Senate Bill 222, which went into effect with Gov. Bill Owens'
signature on May 20, gave the state engineer broad authority in
making water-management decisions to meet legal demands and ensure
long-term health of the aquifer system.
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