Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – May 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

More Legal Woes

Former District Attorney Doug Primavera, who now owns a tobacco shop, has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. It’s the second charge for the attorney, whose shop was hit with a search warrant in March.

The previous charge was dismissed after the case was moved to Huerfano County.

Troubled Waters

Rio Grande Compact Commission members from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas met in Alamosa in April to hear reports on that all-important topic, water.

As of March 27, snowpack was only 70% of normal, but officials hope El Niño will pony up another storm or two before summer.

Other reports given at the meeting were rather vague, including a lack of details about 30 wells in the closed basin project closed due to “bacterial bio-fouling.” An agreement between the Bureau of Reclamation and an El Paso water district regarding use of water for purposes other than irrigation was criticized, but not explained. Apparently, the agreement was made without the commission’s knowledge.

The bureau also unilaterally increased the grazing allotment at Elephant Butte Reservoir near Truth or Consequences, N.M., to accommodate the Rio Grande willow flycatcher, which is nearly extinct.

After revealing these actions, the bureau asked the commission for financial help in cleaning the closed basin. But the meeting ended on a high note when the bureau’s administrator, Gary Rowe, expressed solidarity with the San Luis Valley in the fight against Stockman’s Water Company.

And It Keeps on Flowin’

In classic military fashion, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning a study to generate a study to create a plan for a model for water operations on the upper Rio Grande.

According to district engineer Lt. Col. Lloyd Wagner, the goal is “a numerical computer model capable of simulating water storage and delivery operations in the Rio Grande basin. The primary purpose of the model is to facilitate more efficient and effective management of the Basin’s water supply.”

Software exists to create this model, and RiverWare has a contract with the Army. Wagner implied that the Rio Grande Compact Commission will have to help pay for that contract if they want to share the information gained from it. A commissioner suggested strongly that a project funded by taxpayers should be shared with the organization.

Wagner escaped serious injury in the argument by announcing his transfer to California.

Better than Recycling

There’s now an alternative use for cull potatoes in the San Luis Valley.

Sunshine Potato Flake has opened a plant in Center that turns those scrawny, knobby, unloved and unwanted spuds into dehydrated potato flakes.

Last year, about 100 million pounds of cull potatoes were dumped in a Monte Vista landfill, creating a stink in the area. Now those lost and lonely taters have a home.