RWR: Bad for the San Luis Valley
and Douglas County
Renewable Water Resources’ Pipe Dream
A “lose-lose” for the San Luis Valley and Douglas County
Renewable Water Resources (RWR), a for-profit corporation, is seeking to dry up farms in the San Luis Valley and pipe that groundwater hundreds of miles to Douglas County. Estimated to cost $2 billion, the proposal faces unsurmountable challenges to ever being built. The proposal puts Douglas County water customers and ratepayers at great risk and drains funds from more viable and beneficial projects. Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley and the entire state of Colorado including Douglas County have spoken out against this ill-conceived proposal.
RWR's latest activities
After the Douglas County Commissioners denied RWR’s request in 2022 for $20 million in taxpayer money (COVID Relief Funds) for their water plan, RWR began funding campaigns to place RWR-friendly candidates on Douglas County water provider board of directors and sit on a newly forming water commission. Their goal is to influence these boards to support their export plan.
RWR is attempting to find a willing buyer to purchase $400 million in groundwater rights from the San Luis Valley. According to the water attorney Douglas County hired to review the plan, RWR faces insurmountable odds of getting water to the Front Range due to political, legal, logistical, environmental and social impacts.
Most Douglas County water providers and the authority that manages water in the county have stated they already have adequate water plans in plans in place and do not want or need to purchase water from RWR.
Protect San Luis Valley Water is keeping a close eye on what’s going on in Douglas County and working collaboratively with Douglas County stakeholders who are also fighting the RWR export plan.
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Here's What's At Risk for Both Communities
Risks to the San Luis Valley:
RWR would dry up more than 22,000 acres of farms/ranches that produce locally grown food for the Front Range and U.S.
RWR would drain $53 million annually from the Valley’s economy that relies on agriculture as its primary economic driver and job producer.
RWR’s proposal would deplete an already dry groundwater table in the San Luis Valley, drawing water from streams, rivers and wetlands that support the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the Sandhill Cranes and the Baca Wildlife Refuge.
Recreation impacts to water sports, hunting and wildlife viewing would occur.
Risks to Douglas County taxpayers:
RWR’s proposal is extremely expensive and risky – it highly unlikely to ever deliver water and will cost tax payers millions in legal fees.
Not one water provider in Douglas County is interested in the water. Of the five major water providers, two are at build-out and don’t need more water, and the other three already have more viable projects planned. Castle Rock, Parker and Dominion Water have stated no interest in RWR’s proposal. RWR must have a customer to go through the required water court process.
The proposal would require piping water hundreds of miles through the mountains and federal lands and would have significant environmental impacts.
RWR suggests using other water providers’ infrastructure to get the water to the Front Range, but all three utilities they list as having viable infrastructure – Denver Water, Aurora Water and Colorado Springs Utilities – have said they won’t allow it.
The proposal faces costly environmental permitting that would take tens of millions of dollars to undertake and has a high probability of failure.
Permitting and legal challenges will take decades and only route money away from more viable water solutions.
The proposal is universally opposed by state and federal elected officials, farm and ranch groups, environmental and conservation groups, recreation groups and the residents of the San Luis Valley.