Tag Archives: San Luis Valley water

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.

Saturday’s Symposium: Water, Water, Water!

Water, it’s the life source in Saguache Today and the entire San Luis Valley. Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

Organizers of the very first “State of the Basin Symposium” announced one more heavy hitter will be added to the speaker list at this Saturday’s event: Former U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.  

The Washington D.C. heavy hitter and former Colorado Senator will join the state’s new Attorney General Phil Weiser for a day of brim-filling water data. Looks like the Centennial State’s spotlight will be in Alamosa at the end of this week.

The inaugural Rio Grande “State of the Basin Symposium” will be held from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, on the Adams State University (ASU) campus. the event is free and open to the public.

Center stage will be the nearly 1,900 miles of a major waterway once described by western legend Will Rogers as “the only river I know of that is in need of irrigating.” And for San Luis Valley farmers and ranchers, that statement rings even truer today.

Ken Salazar

According to the Rio Grande’s official website: “From its headwaters in the San Juan Range of the Colorado Rockies to the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville, Texas, the Rio Grande draws from 11 percent of the continental US, with much of that being drought-prone land. That vulnerability is compounded by scores of dams and irrigation diversions, which has left significant portions of the river dry in recent years. In 2001 the river failed to reach the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. In 2002, it happened again.”

That was nearly two decades ago. Today, the accelerating crisis has brought the waterway’s situation far beyond a startling quote or present day “meme.” In fact, it’s that uncertain future that will bring local stakeholders, along with ASU student leaders together with county, state and federal officials in Alamosa near the river’s headwaters in the San Juan Mountain Range for a day-long information exchange.

“As part of an emerging Water Education Initiative at Adams State, the Salazar Center aims to help ‘grow the next generation of water leaders,’” said Salazar Center Director, Linda Rio de la Vista. “We are working with the Valley’s many water partners to bring relevant and useful information to ASU’s students and faculty and the local community. The time is now to raise our level of knowledge on the critical water issues here, and to engage more people in community-based efforts for a sustainable water future. We need everyone’s help to make that possible.”

A number of knowledgeable local experts and teachers will address topics of Rio Grande Basin Water Management 101; Groundwater Management and Subdistricts; the Water Economy; Water and Land Conservation and Acequias; Water, Wildlife, and Restoration of Rivers, Streams and Wetlands; Water and Education; Water and Recreation; and Water and Soil Health.

Local water leaders will also present overviews and updates on key aspects of our current water conditions and challenges. Craig Cotten, Division 3 Engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources, Cleave Simpson, General Manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and Chair of the ASU Board of Trustees, and Heather Dutton, Manager of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District (SLVWCD) and the Rio Grande Basin Representative on the Colorado Water Conservation Board will speak in the morning session in the Richardson Hall Auditorium.

Adams State University’s Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center and the RGWCD are hosts of the event. Additional sponsors include the SLVWCD, Conejos Water Conservancy District and the San Luis Valley Irrigation District.

Parking for this free event is available in campus parking lots along Edgemont Blvd. and on the east side of McDaniel Hall. Permits are not required on Saturdays.

For more information visit State of the Basin Symposium, or contact Linda Rio de la Vista, Director of the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, at 719-850-2255 or riodelavista@adams.edu.