Statement from State Rep. Donald E. Valdez
Dear Douglas County Commissioners:
My name is Donald Valdez. I currently represent Southern Colorado in the Colorado State House District 62 which encompasses Pueblo, Huerfano, and the six counties in the San Luis Valley. I am writing to you today to oppose any and all water exportation from the Rio Grande Basin in San Luis Valley. As you know, water is the livelihood of many individuals in the San Luis Valley. As a farmer/rancher that knows how vital water is to the land and the community, I ask that you oppose the Renewable Water Resources presentation.
The 22 year-long drought across the western United States has harmed farmers, ranchers, and everyone else in the region. There are many farms and ranches located in the San Luis Valley that will be impacted by plans to divert vital water from southern Colorado. As a farmer and a rancher
myself, I see firsthand the effect of the water crisis on those living and working in the San Luis Valley, but most of all those that are involved with agriculture.
Aquifer levels in the San Luis Valley continue to decrease. From July 2019 to July 2020, the aquifer fed by the Rio Grande River decreased by 112,600 acre-feet (Caitlin Coleman, 2020). This past month, aquifer levels in subdistrict No. 1 have decreased by 5,500 acre-feet from December of 2021 to January of 2022 (Priscilla Waggoner, 2022). April is on track to be the lowest aquifer level on record. By diverting water from the valley, farmers will not have the water they need to grow crops. It may seem like there is a water surplus in the valley that can be used in different parts of the state but continued water diversion will have long-term negative impacts for those in the San Luis Valley who will run out of necessary water.
Water is one of our state’s precious resources and is the lifeblood of the San Luis Valley. It must be protected. The San Luis Valley alone provides 90% of Colorado’s potatoes and is the nation’s second largest potato economy (Jim Ehrlich, 2016). As reported by the US Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2013, the gross domestic product of counties in the San Luis Valley totaled more than $3.3 billion, the equivalent of revenue produced by roughly 28,000 full-time jobs earned wages. The water in the San Luis Valley provides jobs, food, and economic production that helps all parts of the state.
Thank you for your consideration.
Donald E. Valdez
House District 62