December 28, 2009--Irrigation regulations draw protests across valley (Pueblo Chieftain)

Irrigators from one end of the Arkansas Valley to the other have lined up to intervene in a Water Court case over compact compliance rules proposed by State Engineer Dick Wolfe. A four-week trial for the rules is scheduled to begin Nov. 16 and, if approved by Chief District Judge Dennis Maes, the Division 2 Water Court judge, they would become effective on Jan. 1, 2011. Wolfe has modified the rules as originally proposed by Division Engineer Steve Witte in 2007, incorporating suggestions from a committee he put together in 2008. At a meeting earlier this month in Rocky Ford, Wolfe expressed optimism that the rules, aimed at ensuring surface-irrigation improvements don’t deplete the Arkansas River, will be adopted essentially the way the committee determined. While there is support for the rules in the valley, 14 of the 21 statements of opposition filed in the case are in protest of the rules. They are mostly irrigators seeking to protect their water rights, who were represented on the committee but not entirely happy with the results.

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