WELCOME to the first Monday of 2022. The Valley got a burst of winter on New Year’s Day, but the week ahead has a forecast for mostly sunny days and temps reaching into the 40s. In other words, much of the same and that’s not good news for the Upper Rio Grande Basin and crop producers of the San Luis Valley.
Rio Grande Water Conservation District 2022 strategies
To address ongoing concerns with the Rio Grande and its unconfined aquifer, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District is having discussions around amending its Rio Grande water management plan to prioritize only surface water for irrigation in its Subdistrict 1 and shifting away from groundwater pumping. That would be a dramatic shift in strategy to recover the unconfined aquifer with a variety of implications, and one that we’ll be watching in 2022.
Ag Conference set for early February
The first big event in the San Luis Valley’s annual calendar of events is the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Fair. It’s happening Feb. 1-3 at the Ski Hi Events Center in Monte Vista.
This is the 40th annual Ag Conference and the first one held in the new events center. The conference features current studies and findings on crops grown in the Valley; demos on the latest equipment and technologies; best farming practices pertinent to today’s climate; and vendors, presentations and networking to fill the 26,000-square-foot space.
To get involved as a vendor, contact the Monte Vista Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 719-852-2731.
How 2022 will affect your pocketbook
and household budget
Alamosa utility rate increases: If you live in the city of Alamosa, your utility rates will increase again in 2022 as part of a multi-year increase pushed through the city council back in 2018. Residential water rates will increase by 5 percent, sewer rates 8 percent, and sanitation rates 6 percent. In 2018 the city council adopted annual increases to utility rates through 2023.
New state gas fee hits motorists in July: To pay for statewide transportation projects, the state of Colorado will add a new gas fee when you fill up at the pump. Starting in July the state will add 2 cents per gallon to vehicle fuel, and that fee will eventually go up to 8 cents by 2028 and then increase with inflation after that. The gas fee, which didn’t require voter approval since it’s tagged as a “fee” versus a “tax” by the Colorado Legislature, is part of a package of new fees the state legislature adopted to pay for $5.2 billion in road projects and improvements over the next 10 years.
Other fees include a 27-cent fee on deliveries for your Amazon and FedEx orders, among other retail deliveries, and a 30-cent fee on rides from Uber, Lyft and other give-me-a-ride apps.
State minimum wage hike: To help low-wage workers meet the rising costs of daily life, Colorado’s minimum wage went up to $12.56 per hour from $9.45 in 2022. The question now becomes whether businesses shift those costs onto their price of goods. There is some evidence that with recent hikes in pretty much every consumer good and service out there, Main Street and Wall Street have taken prices as high as they can for a while. How wage and salaried earners continue to meet the rising cost of everyday life will be another storyline to follow in 2022.
About those rolling blackouts on Dec. 30
It was a curious decision by Xcel Energy to include Alamosa, Rio Grande and Saguache counties in its list of five counties that the utility company targeted for controlled power outages on Thursday, Dec. 30. The fast-moving #MarshallFire in Boulder County forced Xcel to scramble to protect its natural gas system. AlamosaCitizen.com reached out to Xcel for an explanation on why the three Valley counties were part of its controlled outages to preserve power. You can read how Xcel addressed the questions in our Ask The Citizen feature here:
We have more questions for Xcel and will update our story as we learn more.
If you are curious about why something happens or what us to help find an answer to a question you have about living in the San Luis Valley shoot us in email at email@example.com.
A look back at 2021 in photos
We saw a lot of great photography in our initial few months of life as a digital news and information source for the San Luis Valley. AlamosaCitizen.com web producer Emily Osburn put together this slide show of some of our favorite photographs in 2021.
She also produced this 2-minute video story on the adaptive forestry efforts on the Trinchera Ranch following our visit earlier in December. Take a look and Happy New Year.
Shout out to Alamosa High’s Halle Phares
We end this week’s Monday Briefing with a very cool item on Alamosa High’s Halle Phares. The senior was voted onto the Colorado High School Activities Association’s All-State football team, the first Colorado high school female athlete to achieve all-state status in football. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting it,” she told CHSAA writer Brad Cochi. She then described how she learned of the historic honor.
“I walked into one of our classes and one of our O-lineman told me,” she told Cochi. “I freaked out a little bit. I ran out of class and called my parents to tell them. Thankfully, my teacher, he got it and I wasn’t in trouble because he understood. I had a really, really good group of guys with me and they were really supportive of me.”
Read Cochi’s full article on Halle here.