Scenes of Castle Rock, CO, October 30, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news. The Colorado Sun is an owner of CCM.

A controversial plan to pipe water from the San Luis Valley to Douglas County may be seeing new life after the county’s commissioners recently met behind closed doors to discuss the proposal again. 

Four months after announcing they wouldn’t use federal COVID-19 funds on the plan from Renewable Water Resources, or RWR, the commissioners heard a legal update on the project from the county’s outside counsel, Steve Leonhardt, on Sept. 13.

Leonhardt, who recently met with RWR, provided advice and a piece of “work product” for commissioners to review.

“We intend to provide the public with more input and information about any additional discussion with RWR once each of us has had an opportunity to look at that work product,” Commissioner Abe Laydon said during the public portion of the meeting.

In May, Laydon made the decisive vote not to use a portion of the county’s $68 million in American Rescue Plan Act money on the proposal. However, he said he was still interested in continuing to look at the project. 

Since then, the county has continued to pay Leonhardt to talk with RWR.

The project from Renewable Water Resources, or RWR, proposes pulling 22,000 acre-feet of water per year from the San Luis Valley, permanently drying up wells in the area, and transporting the water to Douglas County.

The private water developer asked for an initial investment of $10 million with an additional cost of $19,500 per acre-foot of water. 

Commissioner George Teal, a longtime supporter of the plan, said during the Sept. 13 meeting that Leonhardt’s advice reflects the current legal and political setting and that things could change in the decades it would take for the project to come to fruition. 

“We are talking (about), quite frankly, a generational work project in order to bring water to Douglas County,” he said. “I remain an advocate for proceeding forward with RWR.”

Residents and water districts from the valley, along with politicians and leaders throughout the state, have been strongly against the project, saying there is no extra water to remove from the valley and that the project would irreparably damage the region’s agricultural community. 


Elliott Wenzler

Elliott Wenzler is a reporter for the Colorado Sun, covering local politics, the state legislature and other topics. She also assists with The Unaffiliated newsletter. Previously, she was a community reporter in Douglas County for Colorado Community Media. She has won awards for her...