COME Thursday there should be a clearer sense on whether Douglas County plans to buy into the Renewable Water Resources water exportation proposal.
At least that’s the expectation following a work session Monday that saw the three county commissioners shift into a closed-to-the-public executive session to discuss a final draft of attorney Steve Leonhardt’s memo outlining his analysis and recommendations on the concept.
Following the closed meeting the commissioners indicated they would consider releasing a redacted version of the memorandum. The county then scheduled an executive session for late Thursday afternoon to review the redacted version and potentially then vote to release the memo for public consumption.
“Information coming soon,” Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon said in reply to a question from Alamosa Citizen asking him if he will support the RWR plan now that he has reviewed Leonhardt’s recommendations. Laydon is the deciding vote, with Commissioner Lora Thomas against the RWR plan and Commissioner George Teal expressing interest.
Laydon has said it will be Leonhardt’s analysis as well as insights from Applegate Group Inc., a hydrology consulting firm also hired by Douglas County that will sway his opinion and vote. The memorandum from Leonhardt, shareholder with the firm Burns, Figa & Will, includes recommendations on guarantees Douglas County should secure with RWR through a final negotiation with the group. The memo also would spell out any risks to the proposal in Colorado water court by requesting a change in water use from irrigation to residential, and potential for litigation and length of various litigations to Douglas County taxpayers should the commissioners decide to move ahead.
At a minimum, redacted from the memo would be personal information of anyone Laydon and Leonhardt met with privately on a visit in April to the Valley. Laydon has said he talked to people who support the plan because of what it would mean to them but are afraid to speak publicly.
The Renewable Water Resources proposal to export 20,000 acre-feet annually from the San Luis Valley’s confined aquifer has been met with wide condemnation and challenge. Valley residents, local, state and federal officials, and parties subject to the interstate Rio Grande Water Compact have voiced loud concern about the idea and for Douglas County entertaining the proposal.
An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the next executive session.
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