Wind blowing dust in the San Luis Valley Thursday May 12, 2022. (John McEvoy Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news.

The Douglas County commissioners have decided not to use American Rescue Plan Act dollars on a controversial water supply project, but may consider doing so again in the future.

Commissioner Abe Laydon, the decisive vote on the issue, announced his vote during work session on Tuesday.

“Right now there are simply too significant and enormous of hurdles for us to move forward on this project,” he said. “That’s not to say that we can’t explore this in the future, I think we certainly can, but RWR will have to do significant additional homework on all of these fronts to accomplish that.”

Laydon said his decision was because the county’s outside legal counsel concluded that the project was not eligible for federal COVID relief funds and recommended the county not participate.

The project, proposed by a private company called Renewable Water Resources, would have attempted to pull 22,000 acre-feet of water per year from the San Luis Valley, permanently drying up wells in the area, and transporting it to Douglas County. Residents and water districts from the valley along with politicians and leaders throughout the state have come out strongly against the project, saying there is no extra water to remove from the valley and that it would irreparably damage the community.

Commissioner George Teal, who has long been in support of the project, urged the commissioners to still consider it despite the legal counsel recommendation.

“Douglas County needs water,” he said. “We should be moving forward on everything, on every possibility.”


Elliott Wenzler wrote about politics, water, housing, and other topics for The Colorado Sun from October 2022 through September 2023. She has covered community issues in Colorado since 2019, including for Colorado Community Media. She has been...