Letter to Editor: Abuse of American Rescue Plan Act funds


We are outraged and extremely disappointed in former Governor Bill Owens investing in and supporting a scheme to transport our valuable water resource out of the San Luis Valley.  Working with his former Deputy Sean Tonner, they have submitted a proposal to Douglas County Commissioners to use $20 million dollars of their COVID-relief funds to help their selfish cause to export water out of the San Luis Valley. 

COVID-relief funds — What?  These are federal dollars that all of us pay into every year to the IRS!

When elected as our 40th Governor, Owens thanked rural Coloradoans for his win, defeating Gail Schoettler by only 8,300 votes.  And if you recall, in November of 2002, “Colorado voters rejected Owens’ water storage initiative, Referendum A.  The referendum failed to win a single county in the state…..and was opposed by the environmental community and many of Colorado’s Western Slope who feared it would lead to the Front Range using more Western Slope Water.” (Wikipedia).

Owens supposedly stood up for those of us in rural Colorado.  He also led us to believe that he supported rural economic development and agriculture.  Rural Coloradoans legitimately are fearful of politicians who claim they have our best interest at heart, but when it comes to something they want, they become the hammer that cripples our growth and future prosperity.

The San Luis Valley is in a 20 year drought.  Last spring the State Water Engineer shut down irrigation wells in Sub district 5.  By the time the wells were allowed to be turned back on, it was too late in the season for many of the ranchers to grow enough hay to feed their cattle this winter. 

Our aquifer is depleting.  There is declining runoff in the Rio Grande Basin. The idea that there is an abundance for water for Douglas County suburbia to continue to sprawl at the San Luis Valley’s expense is shameless.    

The Renewable Water Resources (RWR) and Commissioner Teal claims this is “just emotional” for the San Luis Valley.  Well, damn right it is emotional, but it is our livelihood, our family, our heritage, our wildlife and environment.

Douglas County Commissioner George Teal recently wrote, “By coming together now, and with the right approach for all of Douglas County, we can develop a guaranteed water solution that will serve our county now and for decades to come.”  He goes onto say, “The vital resource would come from exporting just 2.5% of the water that recharges (or refills) into the San Luis Valley.” — Jan. 4, 2022 Douglas County News-Press

Get engaged folks!  Write to Owens at [email protected] and the three Douglas County Commissioners:  Abe Laydon  [email protected], (he has ties to Blanca) George Teal [email protected], and Lora Thomas [email protected] and tell them this is an abuse of the American Rescue Plan Act funding and it is also wrong to pit one community against another. 

Dale Becker, Mayor, Monte Vista

Victor Sagala, Mayor Pro-Tem

Martha Lock, Councilwoman

Larry Foster, Councilman

Jason Lorenz, Councilman

Gigi Dennis, City Manager