From the Valley Courier (Ruth Heide):
When the afternoon was concluded, objectors and supporters had agreed in concept to the 2012 annual replacement plan (ARP) for the sub-district and the underlying methodologies and technologies used to develop that plan. That made one of the remaining motions to strike expert witnesses and their reports a moot point because there is now no longer the need for a number of witnesses to present extensive testimony.
Proponents now plan to call only three witnesses, Rio Grande Water Conservation District Manager (RGWCD) Steve Vandiver, RGWCD engineer Allen Davey and Colorado Division of Water Resources State Engineer Dick Wolfe.
This first sub-district, which was designed to repair injurious depletions from well pumping to surface water rights and reduce the draw on the aquifer, operates under a management plan that is effectuated each year through an annual replacement plan. The annual plan spells out how depletions will be replaced…
The sponsoring water district approved the annual plan, as did the state engineer. Objectors challenged it and asked the judge to prohibit wells from pumping in the sub-district boundaries until those challenges were resolved this year. She denied that motion.
Objectors subsequently asked for their claims to be withdrawn and the October trial to be vacated. Judge Swift told objectors they could either withdraw their challenges to the 2012 replacement plan on the condition they could not bring those challenges back again or withdraw them with the opportunity to re-file them only if they paid the supporters’ costs for preparing for trial. They chose the first option, except for Schwiesow whose client the Costilla Ditch Company chose not to withdraw its claims.
One issue still remaining for trial is the use of Closed Basin Project water as one of the sources to replace depletions. Davey in particular will testify to that issue next week. He will also testify about augmentation wells, another issue still pending before the judge…
One of the controversial topics before the judge on Wednesday revolved around the possibility of challenging sub-district water plans in the future. Proponents said they would like some definitive rulings from the judge regarding the foundation of the water plan so they would not have to go through all the time and effort they did this year every year to defend the sub-district’s plan.
“We want the court to be in a position to be able to make factual determinations about the adequacy of the replacement plan because it was so broadly challenged,” [David Robbins, attorney for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District ] said.
[Attorney for the objectors Tim Buchanan] said the objectors raised broad issues “because we didn’t want to be foreclosed in the future from raising those issues.”