Because the Rio Grande river basin is in a three-year drought that fell within a 15-year stretch of below-normal snowfall and rains, San Luis Valley growers may be paid not to use any more ground water.
That is one plan being looked at by the state of Colorado to help pick up the slack of diminishing water supplies in underground aquifers.
The plan would ask for several hundred growers in the central part of the SLV to take
part. This would represent some 200,000 acres in the valley.
The fee would be based on acreage and water use to a proposed sub-district of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.
The valley has reached its limit regarding water supplies. The valley is now “in the red,”—or, used groundwater beyond what would normally be available to replenish supplies, according to a recent Colorado Water Workshop.