|OPINION: J. Paul Brown, Reporting|
|J. Paul Brown | 4/13/12|
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|The Long Hollow Water Storage Project|
Water is the life blood of Colorado.
I grew up on the La Plata River on a farm that straddled the Colorado-New Mexico state line. The agreement between Colorado and New Mexico that governs how water on the La Plata is shared is the La Plata River Compact established in 1922 and is the oldest compact in the state. Simply stated, the Compact requires Colorado to deliver to the New Mexico state line one half of the water measured at Hesperus.
Many years ago, my family was paid to report the water measurement at the state line to the authorities every morning and many times it was my responsibility to do so. Today, the measurements are reported automatically by satellite. Water was a common theme around the Brown family breakfast table.
In both Colorado and New Mexico, the Prior Appropriation Doctrine has been used to establish water rights. This means that the first person who filed on and put water to beneficial use has a higher priority or water right than the next person that filed on the water. The priorities are numbered with the number one priority being the best water right. My family had pretty good water rights in New Mexico with number 3 and 7 priorities and in Colorado a number 14 priority. If Colorado is not delivering half of the water to New Mexico, the Colorado Water Commissioner will start shutting off ditches beginning with the lower priorities until New Mexico is getting their share.
Conversely, if Colorado is delivering more than one half of the water measured at Hesperus to New Mexico then the commissioner turns on ditches to take more.
A water storage project, on the La Plata drainage, that has been on the drawing board since 1945, the Long Hollow project, finally is about to become a reality. This is a project located in the mouth of the Long Hollow Drainage about 3 miles from the New Mexico state line. It will allow Colorado to store winter runoff and floodwater in the off-irrigation season to be used to satisfy the New Mexico water at critical times. One of the big problems in managing the delivery of water to New Mexico under the Compact is when there is very little water at Hesperus, all of it can be released and because of seepage and evaporation nothing is delivered to the state line.
The idea of the Long Hollow project is to store water so that New Mexico's portion can be delivered out of the dam and Colorado can use more water that is in the river. It is a great project and it is too bad that it has taken 67 years to become a reality.
I try to attend as many meetings regarding water as I possibly can because I always either learn something new or reinforce my water knowledge. The Colorado Water Congress, a group of individuals and organizations that are very interested in water legislation meets in Denver almost every Monday morning when the legislature is in session. Water is very important to Colorado and we must never take it for granted.
Republican State Assembly
Saturday will be the Republican State Assembly held in Denver. I will join 82 Republicans from La Plata County and numerous other Republicans around the state to represent our counties as we set policy and decide who will be on the ballot for the primary which will be the end of June. Also we will elect representatives to the National Republican Convention in Florida in August. There are over 900 that are vying for 12 voting delegate seats and 12 alternate seats. I am one of those that is running and the odds are pretty slim that I will be elected. It is an exciting and interesting opportunity. I look forward to seeing many of you in Denver.
The election this fall is the most important in my lifetime! I pray that you will all be very involved. We will be deciding the fate of our country. Will we continue down the the road to Socialism — or will we return to the model of freedom that has sustained this great God-fearing country for 236 years? We will decide this fall.
J. Paul Brown is the State Representative for House District 59, which includes Archuleta and La Plata Counties.
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