If you ask anyone in the San Luis Valley about the Renewable Water Resources (RWR) proposed pipeline, you will hear a clear and honest answer in opposition to this idea. We are starting to see a trend around the Front Range and Denver Metro area to where the answer to their water issues is located in the western and southern of the state. Not only is this a lazy answer to the water shortages the whole state is facing, but it's also a classic example of robbing Peter to pay Paul.
Colorado has to send between 35-70% of the Rio Grande River flow downstream, depending on the year's runoff. We see the same with the Colorado River Compact where Colorado only keeps 53% of the upper basin’s water flow. Now, there is no problem allocating water for all of those who have water rights downstream. We must all work together not only to keep agriculture and jobs alive but to maintain the health of the river. The issue is when we see drought conditions year after year and our ranchers and farmers in the state struggle for water.
The Front Range already collects 30-50% of water from western Colorado and now they want thousands more acre-feet from the San Luis Valley. The shallow unconfined aquifer found in the Rio Grande Basin of Colorado has farms and ranches already making self-imposed cuts to irrigation to prevent further depletion of the aquifer. There just is not enough water to go around and scientists are predicting drought conditions to continue well into the future.
What I would like to see is for the Front Range to take some accountability and start to focus on techniques to recycle and reuse water that they already have available. The technology is there and with the proposed money from the RWR pipeline, they can invest in a sustainable option that will not risk depleting a river that is already stretched to the limit. It is important that we put the rights of water holders in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District first and work with other localities to come up with better solutions than running pipelines from already stressed river basins.
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