Article by Central Staff
San Luis Valley water – June 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine
Boyce says he may file for water in court this year
Whether you call it Son of AWDI or the No Dam Water Project, it’s back in the news. It’s a proposal by Gary Boyce and his Stockman’s Water Company to drill deep wells and export water from the Confined Aquifer of the Closed Basin of the San Luis Valley to the Front Range.
Boyce has been talking up his plan for several years, ever since he got control of the 100,000-acre Baca ranch east of Moffat. But nothing official, in the form of a filing in water court, has happened.
A couple of months ago, though, there was talk that a filing was imminent, and so we called Boyce.
At first he said it was just rumor, and he wasn’t sure why the rumor started, then added that he might have helped the rumor materialize. He had said he would wait until this session of the legislature was over before deciding what, if any, action he would take in 1999.
And so, as the legislature neared adjournment, the talk heated up.
“We may well file for water rights this year,” Boyce said. Colorado law discourages speculation in water, so Boyce needed some customers for the water before filing for the rights, “and now I’ve got a few lined up in northern El Paso County and some other places between Denver and Colorado Springs.”
Boyce got shot down by Colorado voters last year with the resounding defeat of two ballot initiatives he backed. Both were aimed at some of his opponents, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and its constituents.
This time around, he also faces the announced opposition of Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, who said “I want to go on record with the lawyers who are representing Stockman’s to let them know that if they move forward with an application of this type, that they can expect we are going to fight with all the resources that we have within the attorney general’s office.”
Salazar has assigned an assistant, Steve Sims, to the Stockman’s case, and the apparent plan is to discourage Boyce from filing by offering the threat of long and expensive litigation.
“I don’t think that matters much,” Boyce said. “We already knew this project would involve long and expensive litigation.”
It strikes us that Colorado might be better served if Salazar had threatened long and expensive litigation against the developers along the Front Range who keep building houses in a desert and thus create a market for San Luis Valley water — after all, if Boyce didn’t have a place to sell it, he wouldn’t be trying to develop it.
But that makes sense, and this is Colorado’s state government we’re talking about.