"The benefit of establishing an advisory committee is that all stakeholders can be represented and provide advice and recommendations to me in shaping the rules and regulations," Wolfe stated. "It is my hope this large group will be able to sufficiently represent the many varied interests in the basin."
In the order establishing the advisory committee, Wolfe cited his authority under the General Assembly to administer ground water in Water Division 3 (the Valley) in order to protect senior water rights, maintain aquifer sustainability, reduce further water declines and encourage the use of ground water management sub-districts.
Wolfe added that by statute he is required to regulate the waters of the state according to the state's constitution, Water Rights Determination and Administration Act and other laws. He cited statutes that provide the state engineer with wide discretion in permitting continued underground water use "consistent with preventing material injury to senior surface water rights."
Wolfe stated that the purpose of the proposed rules/regulations will be to protect vested water rights in the basin "while at the same time encouraging the maximum beneficial utilization of Colorado's water under sustainable conditions."
Recognizing the "complex surface water and groundwater systems in the Rio Grande Basin," Wolfe said he decided it would be beneficial to create an advisory committee comprised of waters users and representatives from groups with water rights interests in the basin.
Wolfe is requesting one representative from each of the following water districts to make up the advisory committee: Alamosa - La Jara Water Conservancy District; Conejos Water Conservancy District; Rio Grande Water Conservation District; San Luis Valley Irrigation District; San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District; and the Trinchera Water Conservancy District.
In addition, the state engineer is seeking one representative from each of these geographic areas or water user associations: Acequia Preservation Association; Alamosa-La Jara area; Carnero/La Garita area; Costilla/Culebra area; Saguache area; Rio Grande Senior Water Users; San Luis Valley Well Users Association; Rio Grande Water Users Association; Empire Canal Water Users; Rio Grande Canal Water Users Association; Trinchera Irrigation Company; Costilla Acequia Association; and the Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company.
Wolfe is also seeking one county commission nominee from: Alamosa; Conejos; Costilla; Mineral; Rio Grande; and Saguache Counties. He is also seeking municipality representation from Alamosa, Blanca/Fort Garland, Center, Creede, Monte Vista, Saguache and San Luis.
The federal and state agencies are not left out. Wolfe has included one representative from each of these agencies: Bureau of Land Management and United States Forest Service; Colorado Division of Wildlife; National Parks Service - Great Sand Dunes National Park; Natural Resources Conservation Service; and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
The state engineer will also select at least five others to serve on the advisory committee representing additional appropriators of water in the basin, engineers or water attorneys who practice in the basin.
The state will also accept individual nominations by email to email@example.com.