Monte Vista Coop

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Water for future generations...

Look what the wind blew in – On October 30, 2011 the world population hit a projected 7 billion people. Wow!  For most of us 7 billion is unimaginable. So let’s put it into some context that seems a bit closer to home. There are about 5 million people here in the state of Colorado. Colorado’s population is projected to double to between 8.6 and 10 million people by 2050.

I am not trying to be a fatalist, but this is a resource demand I am not sure we really understand. We here in the San Luis Valley are currently feeling this resource demand due to the decline in our aquifers and the restrictions that this will place on our farming lifestyles. Rightfully so. We are all injured in one respect or another by what has happened or will happen here.  We need to fix the situation and I do not think there is anyone who feels that a million acre feet decline in our aquifer is an acceptable, let alone sustainable situation. To that end there is a bigger lion on the horizon.

Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI) is a report from the Colorado Water Conservation Board that been analyzing the difference between our supply and our “demands” (notice I don’t say needs).  The report  looks out over this time period between now and the 2050 and has fondly called the difference between the supply and the demand the GAP. For most of us in rural place because of our farming areas it is a gap, but looking closely at the demand being asked by the urban centers of the Front Range it is much more of a canyon and I assure you it makes the future of Colorado’s open space and agriculture look dim.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind about these numbers they are based on medium demands in all areas at a 100% success rate of all proposed water projects and programs. 

The bottom line is that the population growth will cause municipal water demands to double. We have no new supply; unfortunately we can’t make more water. We can only use the tools we have available that is conservation – That means  every one not just us farmers and ranchers, but golf courses, lawn sizes, medians, water efficient plants in our urbanscapes, along with water efficient appliances and utilities. It means investment in Water Projects and Processes that last and are true investments in infrastructure. It also means defining supply, so that uses can be studied and “new” water supply plans can be defined. Finally, it is the recognition that Ag Water doesn’t become the main GAP supplier, but the GAP survivor and remains the vital part of the infrastructure that it is today; meeting both consumptive and non-consumptive needs well beyond 2050.

Let’s all work together to meet Colorado’s future water needs in a sustainable way. We face a challenge: providing future generations with enough water.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

San Luis Valley Water

There was a time when the San Luis Valley was the envy of Colorado. When you entered from the north there was standing water in the barrow ditches, the fields were saturated with sub-water and everything was green as you drove through the San Luis Valley. We were readily bringing new circles into production, and the valley was pumping.
With the settlement of AWDI everyone was feeling secure about the water situation and then the change happened. The 2002 drought helped served as change maker that brought on depletions to the valleys lucrative water stores. Producers did what they had always done, except with less surface water users began to pump even more ground water. It was all that could be done; the investment in an agriculture crop is steep in the forefront, with investments in seed and fertilizer having to be made long before the irrigation season arrives. So, like a glass the waitress forgets to refill the results were dramatic.  The aquifer dropped by approximately 800,000 acre feet.
The aquifer depletions were growing and in the subsequent years replacement has been difficult. With the mountains snow storages feeding a dry system the replacement of those depletions is an arduous process. The concerns over aquifer depletion still growing the State of Colorado stepped in and recognized that these depletions were injurious to surface water right holders. Since, Colorado water is a separate property right there was much interest in resolving the problem. From that need was born the idea that a local solution should be sought and so the “sub-district” idea came to life.
The Sub-districts are local water units that are made up of local property owners, who must collectively work together to diminish the storage issues.  With the formation of “Sub-district #1” the work really started. This area encompasses what is known as the closed basin and is home to lucrative production farms, that each has a variety of water rights. The plan calls for a market based approach to reduce water consumption, the establishment of areas of common interest and water use and then to levy fee’s based upon the benefit the land receives. With local governance the idea is to allow for pro-active participation by users. The plan does include scheduled fallowing through the CRP program.  If successful the sub-districts should accomplish the following compensate for injurious depletions without impacting the Rio Grande Compact and sustain the aquifers.
 The alternative is state regulated ground water reduction which has happened in other basins the South Platte basin experienced court ordered well regulation, which meant well shut down after failure to resolve injurious depletions. The Arkansas has also seen well regulation to satisfy compact requirements. As for the Rio Grande basin we are under pending the well regulation use rules, awaiting the final decision by the Supreme Court to objectors in the sub-district case. If ruled upon favorably then SB04-222 will move forward and allow the operation Sub-district #1, this will then pave the way for other sub-districts in Conejos, Trinchera, San Luis, Sagauche, South Rio Grande, La Jara and Alamosa.
Where the dust will settle on this issue is in the courts hands. One thing is for sure change is in the wind!
As always, I welcome your comments and or questions on this article.  Thanks for reading!
 Judy Lopez

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Colorado Water Appropriation

Colorado’s water top started long before we were even a state.
In Colorado, water is a separate property right that can be sold separately from the land. This is different from the Riparian doctrine where the water rights are attached to the land that is adjacent to the stream or the river. In Colorado, we administer water under Prior Appropriation Doctrine. This means that those who put the water to beneficial use first are entitled to get their water first during times of shortage. 
The Colorado Constitution declared that all water in every stream belonged to the people of the state and was subject to appropriation.  In 1879, Colorado established a Water Commissioner to distribute water rights in priority based upon the principle of “First in Time… First in Right”.  Sooo… “Priority of right to water by priority of appropriation is older than the state constitution itself, and has existed from the date of the earliest appropriations of water within the boundaries of Colorado,” (Farmers Highline Canal& Reservoir Co)  which was established way back on April 10, 1852, with the San Luis Peoples Ditch.
What this means in water lingo is that those with earlier decreed rights (Prior) have senior rights and can divert their water before later decreed rights. It is a matter of timing, at least as far as acquiring the right goes. The second part of the “Appropriation” system requires the agency, private person or business, put the water to beneficial use according to the procedures of the law. This requires the appropriator to have a plan to divert, store, capture, control or posses the water in order to put it to beneficial use. “WHEW”
What is beneficial use?  This is a moving target and can depend on the economy, the community, and the values and ethics of the users. There are however recognized beneficial uses: Augmentation, CWCB In-stream Flows, Commercial, Domestic, Dust Suppression, Evaporation from a gravel pit, Fire protection, Fish and Wildlife, Flood control, Industrial, Irrigation, Mined land reclamation, Municipal, Nature centers, Power Generation, Water and Gas production, Recreation Reservoirs and In-channel Flows, Release of Storage for boating and fishing, Snowmaking and Stock watering.
The point I am making is that there are a lot of uses coming out of the pool that is only just so big!  Do we have enough?  
As always, I welcome your questions and/or input on this topic.
Judy Lopez

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Water Issues - and there are many.

Remember when you were a kid and there were the Dick and Jane books? For those of you who don’t, they taught little kids from the fifties, sixties and seventies how to read, and  they used to say the biggest word of all was “LOOK”.  Well I beg to differ.   Hi, my name is Judy Lopez and I am an Ag educator who began this line of work about seven years ago. It was then that I learned the biggest word of all. . . “WATER”.
Water is considered a perpetual resource, I know that seems to be a strange statement in the middle of a dry year, but because it is part of a naturally renewable cycle it is considered ongoing. Now, I can see it if you think about it in terms of a geologic  time scale over eons, but in terms of lifetimes, I think personally (and I stress the personally), we have to look at fresh water supplies as quite possibly a non-renewable resource.  Not that anyone is to blame, we’re just human,  so with that in mind, of all the water on Earth only 3% is fresh and able to be consumed by plants, animals, crops, and humans.  Of that 3%, approximately 68% is tied up in glaciers, 30% is held up as ground water storage, while 2% remains as surface water, fresh water lakes, rivers, streams, and swamps. The key is that it is all driven by weather.
The water cycle is a key part of how we all exist, but we learned that little fact in 4th grade. The problem today is that a lot of us forgot it. So let’s have a quick refresher course.  We should remember that we need water to fall in the form of precipitation, then it does one of a few things.  It either stores in the form of snow or ice, infiltrates to groundwater, runs-off to streams lakes and rivers or is used by plants.  Next, as the plot continues - it evaporates from the surface or evapotranspires through plants and then condenses in the atmosphere and starts all over again. The key is the process recharge.  When water from the surface infiltrates the ground it recharges ground water supplies, with adequate precipitation rivers and streams are recharged allowing surface areas to stay hydrated.  Even the atmosphere stays hydrated. The system stays full. 
But this is in a perfect world without large cities, paved streets, concrete parking lots, malls and such progress. It is in this world recharge gets inhibited because water doesn’t go in, but runs overland  and suddenly picks up a lot of momentum, and other substances before going into streams and rivers causing erosion and  non- point source pollution.
  I think about farms and ranches a lot. I get the opportunity to spend time on them, advocate for them and teach about them and I am proud of America’s farmers and ranchers and how they work to preserve the landscape, as well as make a  living  and I know that if it is up to them we will preserve our water resources.  Simply by the act of placing water on crops that ultimately goes into recharge we are securing a valuable part of our water future. So next time you hear that our water future is better spent on city economies, remind them why Americans spend only .07 cents of every dollars on food and not .80 as in Kuwait and have fresh water to drink, wash and use.  It is because of our AG Economy.
So next blog let’s see how getting to the bottom of water somehow always means starting at the top.
I would encourage comments as well as answer any questions any of you have on this matter.  Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.
Judy Lopez

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

High Gas Prices

I should tell everyone up front when I was approached about writing a blog my response was, “Sure, no problem!” and like most things in my life, I’ve never been one to admit ignorance of something. It must be the male ego that prevents concession. The first thing I had to do was find out what a blog is. I learned that a blog is a combination of two root words WEB and LOG and the term was coined by Peter Merholz in 1999. Okay, enough with the history lesson. Lets blog!!
My name is Skotty Morris, and I am the head of the Petroleum Division here at your MVC. I am going to blog about a topic that everyone is familiar with and certainly has an opinion about. Luckily for us, I am an expert in the field. When it comes to gas prices I consistently hear these two comments, “THEY’RE TOO HIGH!” and “WHY IS THE COOP ALWAYS HIGHER THAN EVERYONE ELSE?”
I will address the first statement first. The United States of America is the largest consumer of fossil fuels on the planet. We consume 18.6 billion barrels per day. The number two country is China. Guess how much they consume daily? I will let you work on that. When you respond to my blog, and I hope you will, you can tell the rest of the readers that the gap between the two is staggering. It should tell the story of why they, whoever they is, charge so much for gas. It’s simply because they can, but I will continue to ride my snowmobile and go fishing and hunting and of course drive back and forth to work daily like most Americans now. That is something I’ve come to terms with. It’s the second comment I still struggle with most.
“Why is Coop always higher than everyone else?” I must say, without sounding too boisterous, the current management team at your MVC has been very, and I stress VERY, competitive over the last few years. I will be 38 shortly after this is posted and my how the world has changed in twenty years. One thing age has brought is some clarity in the field of being a consumer. Although price is on my list of things to look at when making a purchase, there are other things to be considered. Value is number one for me and it encompasses so much. I am one of those people who is willing to pay more for service, quality and the something I affectionately refer to as ‘the cause”. What is the cause? I’m glad you asked. What does the company I’m doing business with stand for? How does this business affect our local economy? In what ways do they give back to the community? Where is their corporate office? If I call will I speak to someone locally or someone in Ohio? Not that there’s anything wrong with someone in Ohio, I just wonder how much they know about our local economy or even our local culture.
I suppose I’ve made my point, but for blogging sake, what we really need from you, the members of the MVC, are answers to the following questions. What do you perceive as value? Is price more important than doing business locally? What would you like to see us doing differently? I’ve been warned that when given the opportunity, consumers will find something to complain about. If so, then so be it, but we need to know from our member base what you value if we hope to keep your company alive. We need feedback. It is important to your board and your employees that you tell us what your expectations are. Hopefully, something I have written here will prompt you to post a comment, and who knows, maybe I will have to write a follow up blog to elaborate on why Cooperatives need support from its member base in order to sustain local economies and maintain profitability.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Alamosa Round Up Rodeo! June 23-26

We are so excited for this year’s Alamosa Round-Up. It has been an exciting process to bring the PRCA rodeo back to Alamosa!! It definitely would not have been possible with put the help of all the local businesses as well as the town itself. It is such a blessing to get to share our passion for rodeo with the community we love!!

You don’t want to miss this year’s line up of events!!! We have brought in the best!! For the first time, The One Armed Bandit and Co. will be bringing their award winning buffalo act to the Alamosa Round-Up Rodeo both nights Thursday, June 23rd and Friday June 24th. They are an 11 time Specialty Act of the Year in the PRCA.

Also, as a special treat, The Living Water Bible Fellowship is bringing Susie McEntire (Reba’s) little sister in for a Country Gospel Concert, Sunday June 26th. Tickets are FREE and can be picked up around town or at the Rodeo and Derby!!

And then of course there is the Demolition Derby!!! For the 3rd Year in a row it will be held Sat Night. Last year’s crowd was standing room only!! We had an awesome Derby, with the big cars, mini’s and pick-ups. The hits were awesome!! What better way is there to spend a Sat. Night!!

The Alamosa Round-Up is really an event filled with all the events we personally love!! Jerry loves the Derby, I love the rodeo, and our boys love the Mutton Bustin!! This year’s Mutton Bustin will be extra awesome!! We have incredible prizes: buckles made by Montana Silversmiths, Justin Boots, Wrangler Jeans, and McDonalds happy meals!!

Last year’s rodeo and derby were incredible, and if the wind doesn’t blow our signs down, we expect this year’s crowds to be better than ever!! We moved Sat afternoon’s rodeo to Thursday Night, because the Grand Stands got a little warm in the sun. So we need to get the word out. We’ll have champion cowboys and cowgirls making their way from all over the country……Let’s see what they’ve got!!!

See ya at the Rodeo…..and Derby…..and Mutton Bustin!!!
For all the details visit

Dawn Honeycutt

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Summerfest of the Rio! June 3rd, 4th and 5th!

As you are aware, Summerfest is this weekend, June 3, 4 and 5th! Summerfest on the Rio was started in 2001 as a way to promote the San Luis Valley’s eclectic arts and crafts community. Since then, the annual festival has been held along the winding Rio Grande each year on the first full weekend in June, a kick-off to summertime in Alamosa’s spacious and picturesque Cole Park.

The fun begins Friday night, June 3rd, with Summerfest’s signature Concert in the Park. On Saturday and Sunday morning visitors return for delicious food, entertainment and activities provided by more than 125 vendors and food booths around the park.

For more information on events, entertainment, vendors, lodging or contact information, click the link below.

Welcome to the MVC Blog

Hello everyone! Welcome to the new MVC Blogger. In keeping pace with today's social media, MVC will be incorporating a monthly blog on our website ( This blog will cover topics including, but not limited to, water issues, high fuel prices, livestock maintenance, and of course, agriculture. The MVC Blog is intended to be an informative dialog as well as a forum for a positive exchange of ideas on topics that are of concern to our customers. Be sure to check in each month and let us know what you think of the MVC Monthly Blog.