Tag Archives: Saguache water

Center Receives Help with Water

Finally, there’s a bit of good news for water in the San Luis Valley.

Earlier this month on November 19, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced that the department is investing $635 million in 122 projects (PDF, 315 KB) to improve water systems and wastewater handling services in rural communities in 42 states. USDA is funding the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant program.

From Center to Saguache water is gold in the San Luis Valley.

The projects will benefit communities from across America, but those closer to home in Colorado include one in Saguache County. The town of Center will use a $1,855,000 million loan and $6,663,000 million grant to replace the district’s failing lagoons wastewater plant with a mechanical wastewater treatment plant. The existing lagoons system is currently out of compliance. This investment, along with a partnership with the Department of Local Affairs, will assist the district in installing a new treatment plant which will bring the district back into compliance with Colo. Department of Public Health and Environment.

“These investments will bring reliable infrastructure to rural communities. They will replace old, fragile, leaking water pipes with new ones and allow upgrades to water handling systems that are decades old, boosting water pressure and cutting water losses. Working with our partners, these investments create jobs and improve public health and safety,” LaVoy said.

One of the other awards in Colorado went to Florida River Estates, a real estate subdivision located 6 miles Northeast of Durango on CR 240 (Florida Rd).​​ The Florida River Estates HOA, Inc. is a non-profit organization responsible for the management of the community water system, common areas and the HOA.

The Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. Photo: Saguache Today.

This Rural Development investment will be used to make water system upgrades. The distribution system will be replaced with new mains, valves, meter pits, meters and yokes to bring the system up to the American Water Works Association standards.

Both of these awards were sponsored by Saguache County’s Washington representatives: Senators Michael Bennet, and Cory Gardner, as well as Rep. Scott Tipton (03). Eligible applicants include rural cities, towns and water districts. The funds can be used for drinking water, stormwater drainage and waste disposal systems in rural communities that meet population limits.

About the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

“Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their infrastructure, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives,” concluded Sec. LaVoy.

The new water project in Center includes a new treatment plant which will bring the district back into compliance with Colo. Department of Public Health and Environment.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

Buy and Dry: Valley Water at Risk

By Kathy Bedell, Saguache Today

Buy and Dry. These three words represent the new catchphrase in local water conversations. And these three words ebbed and flowed their way through the many discussions and presentations made at last February’s inaugural Rio Grande “State of the Basin Symposium” which was held at Adams State University in Alamosa on February 23, 2019.

The intention of the gathering was to bring together local water leaders to present overviews and updates on key aspects of the San Luis Valley’s current water conditions and challenges. That goal was met as every level from the morning group presentations to the afternoon series of breakout sessions.

“The San Luis Valley can be a leader in water discussion. Not just in Colorado, but across the nation,” stated Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who was one of the keynote speakers.

And while the political hyperbole can sometimes dilute the critical importance of this life-giving resource, things did seem a bit different at this symposium. Maybe it was the auditorium packed with people who live closer to the earth than most, the ever-dedicated farmers and ranchers whose cowboy hats silhouetted the audience as they came together to stake their own claim on a critical component to their livelihoods: water.



Cleave Simpson, General Manager Rio Grande Water Conservation District (center) welcomes the hundreds of farmers and ranchers at the Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium in February 2019 at Adams State University in Alamosa. Joining Simpson on stage were presenters Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (left) and former AG and SLV native Ken Salazar (right). Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Saguache Today was there to record the morning’s presentations. These are the top experts in the field and their passion for and knowledge of this valley shines through at every level. And most notably, one common word threaded through many introductions was “generational” Most were folks that have lived in the San Luis Valley their whole lives like their parents and grandparents. Now they are in leadership roles when it comes to the SLV water discussion, representing water conservation districts, restoration projects, and engineering and legal perspectives.

These videos should help brings residents and readers up to date on what’s happening with the aquifers, the Rio Grande compact, the legal rights concerning water and what measures are in place to protect the SLV’s water.

How the Rio Grande Works

How the Rio Grande Works was presented by Craig Cotton Division 3 Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources at the Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium in February 2019 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

Why Should I Care about the Valley’s Water?

“Why Should I Care about the Valley’s Water?” was presented by Amber Pacheco, Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) at the Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium in February 2019 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

The Past and Future Fights to Protect the Water of the San Luis Valley.

“The Past and Future Fights to Protect the Water of the San Luis Valley.” Was presented by Ken Salazar, joined by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Salazar leads this part of the conversation, reviewing the past successes and future challenges during his tenure as Colorado’s former Attorney General, US Senator and US Interior Secretary presented at the Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium in February 2019 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

How the Attorney General’s Office Can Support a Thriving Future for the San Luis Valley.

“How the Attorney General’s Office Can Support a Thriving Future for the San Luis Valley” is presented by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser.  He is joined by Ken Salazar Colorado’s former Attorney General, US Senator and US Interior Secretary presented at the Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium in February 2019 at Adams State University in Alamosa.

Question and Answer Session

In this video, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and
Ken Salazar answer questions from the audience regarding water in the San Luis Valley at first Rio Grande “State of the Basin Symposium”

Journalist Kathy Bedell owns a digital media company in Leadville, CO that publishes Leadville Today and Saguache Today. she may be reached at info@saguachetoday.com.