ALAMOSA - When the new Groundwater Rules and Regulations go into effect, groundwater wells in the San Luis Valley will need to “replace depletions.” Deep and reliable wells, like those that supply the City of Alamosa, draw a small amount of water from the environment for many miles when they pump. The easiest way to follow the new rules is to put that missing water back into the rivers. To do that, one either needs a reservoir or an extremely good water right.
Cactus Hill Farm has the most senior #1 water right on the Alamosa River, el Viejo Ditch. The city of Alamosa needed part of that water to keep faucets running. Rather than “buy-and-dry” any of Cactus Hill, the city, the landowners, Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust (RiGHT) -- and the Colorado Water Conservation Board -- worked together to develop a lease agreement diverting 5 to 10 percent of the farm’s irrigation water back into the river.
With this agreement, the city will follow the new groundwater rules. Farmers and ranchers in Capulin will receive their full water rights - with no injury - for the first time in a long time. Cactus Hill can move the unirrigated acres around the farm, keeping their land healthy and productive. The Alamosa River and its wildlife will benefit from increased flows.
Thanks abound. First, RiGHT has to thank the Colorado Water Conservation Board, LOR Foundation, and Gates Family Foundation; for their financial support of this innovative project. Thank you to the City of Alamosa and Miller-terKuile family for their dedication to making this project a true win-win-win. And, of course, thanks to all who donated to RiGHT during their 2018 Save the Ranch Campaign, which featured Cactus Hill Farm. RiGHT couldn’t do this work without support.