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Old 05-02-2013, 07:32 PM
 
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There is a major water dispute developing in the San Luis Valley that could reshuffle the deck, depending on what happens in the next few years.

Here it is in a nutshell:

Beginning several decades ago, the Feds determined that insufficient water was being delivered from the Rio Grande River drainage from Colorado to southern New Mexico and Texas. One way that the downstream deliveries were increased was from the drilling of numerous wells into the seemingly endless San Luis Valley aquifer, that water being dumped into the Rio Grande. That is why there are few artesian wells left in the SLV--nearly all must be pumped now. Many farmers also drilled wells into the aquifer, using the water to run center-pivot irrigation systems. It was not until a private company, American Water Development, Inc. (AWDI) proposed drilling huge wells into the San Luis Aquifer in the 1980's and diverting massive quantities of water to Front Range cities (thankfully, that didn't happen), that people finally began to acknowledge that the San Luis Valley aquifer was not "endless" and might be depleting far quicker than people realized. Still, most believed that the aquifer was not "tributary" water--that is, being recharged from streamflows from the Rio Grande and its tributaries, though logic would indicate that the possibility of the aquifer being at least partially tributary would be certainly plausible, if not likely.

The last few years of drought, especially last year, are providing ample evidence that the aquifer is indeed comprised of a lot of tributary water from the SLV's surface streams. The proof was that, as the SLV's wells were unmercifully pumped during the irrigating season, streamflows in many of the valleys streams (including the Rio Grande) shrunk to near nothing. The implication, of course, being that surface streams were being "pulled" underground to attempt to recharge the aquifer.

Meanwhile, Texas and southern New Mexico are still screaming that their allotment from interstate compact on Rio Grande River flows is not being met--to the point that plans are in place to systematically begin to dry up about 25% of the irrigated land in the SLV over the next few years to increase Rio Grande River flows to meet the compact requirements.

Here is where things may get interesting: If the surface streamflow water right holders can prove that all or part of the San Luis Valley aquifer water is "tributary"--that is, actually water coming into the aquifer from surface streamflows, they may then be able to claim that wells that have been drilled into the aquifer, because they are "injuring" surface water right holders, are subject to the seniority system for the surface streamflows. Since many of the wells drilled in the SLV were drilled in the past 4 decades or so, they would likely be junior to far older senior water rights on the surface streams. Were that the case, such wells could face shutdown during times when streamflows were inadequate to supply senior surface water right holders with their allotted water. Considering that the senior surface water right holders in the SLV often have priority dates from the 1850's (no, that isn't a typo) to the 1930's, well water permit holders from the last few decades might have plenty to worry about if some or all of the SLV aquifer water was determined to be tributary to the surface streamflows.

There are a lot of "maybes," suppositions, and legal and technical ambiguities that would have to be addressed, but the overall picture is a very uneasy one. If this year pans out as poorly as it appears that it will for surface water supplies in the SLV, I suspect that the legal battles will be on tap in pretty short order.
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Old 05-02-2013, 09:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debbie at bouontiful View Post
Is it expensive to have water delivered or even hauled? Would you have enough for a large garden? I hadn't realized how the drought was affecting Colorado and maybe New Mexico too. I know in the panhandle of OK it is bad but I am in Eastern OK. and we were in a drought but nothing like that.

I love driving through the SLV area. I always stop in Alamosa before heading South to Chama.
Here is what the seller of my land told me:

YOU CAN ALSO BUY WATER FROM THE TOWN OF SAN LUIS'S WATER DISTRICT. I THINK THAT THE GOING RATE IS .02 A GALLON, OR YOU CAN CONTRACT WITH DIFFERENT PEOPLE WHO ARE HAULING WATER. I KNOW OF ONE FELLOW WHO HAULS WATER FOR ABOUT $75 FOR 500 GALLONS

The hauling price for $75 for 500 gallons is expensive incomparison to Texas. In Texas I know of some resident who do not have a well and they pay $150 for 2000 gallons. 2000 gallons is the minimum delivery amount. However, the $0.02 rate for hauling yourself is excellent. Most people can haul 1000 gallons easily with a decent trailer and pick-up truck.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:05 PM
 
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^
Well, let's do some math. I do no outside irrigating with my municipal water and I'm very conservative with what I use inside. In a typical month, I use approximately 1,000 gallons, so, at $75 per 500 gallons, it would cost me $150 per month, using the above figures--just for inside water.

Now, let's say I have a 100'x100' garden--that's 10,000 square feet, or 0.229 acres. Most garden crops take around 20 inches of water per season to grow--most areas of the San Luis Valley only get around 3" of that in a normal growing season, leaving 17 inches that has to come from irrigation. That computes to 0.3244 acre/feet of water to irrigate the 0.229 acres, or 105,712 gallons of water. Since the SLV's growing season is about 90 days, that would amount to hauling around 1,175 gallons per day during the growing season. Round that down to a thousand gallons per day, and you'd be paying $150 per DAY at the above-quoted rate to grow a garden. 50'x50' garden? "Only" $75 per day. It's not the water that's expensive--it's the fuel, and wear and tear on equipment to haul it. So much for the granola-crunching, grow your own food, "sustainable" lifestyle in the SLV, unless one has regular irrigation water rights or an agricultural water well permit.
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Old 05-03-2013, 02:04 AM
 
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
^
Well, let's do some math. I do no outside irrigating with my municipal water and I'm very conservative with what I use inside. In a typical month, I use approximately 1,000 gallons, so, at $75 per 500 gallons, it would cost me $150 per month, using the above figures--just for inside water.

Now, let's say I have a 100'x100' garden--that's 10,000 square feet, or 0.229 acres. Most garden crops take around 20 inches of water per season to grow--most areas of the San Luis Valley only get around 3" of that in a normal growing season, leaving 17 inches that has to come from irrigation. That computes to 0.3244 acre/feet of water to irrigate the 0.229 acres, or 105,712 gallons of water. Since the SLV's growing season is about 90 days, that would amount to hauling around 1,175 gallons per day during the growing season. Round that down to a thousand gallons per day, and you'd be paying $150 per DAY at the above-quoted rate to grow a garden. 50'x50' garden? "Only" $75 per day. It's not the water that's expensive--it's the fuel, and wear and tear on equipment to haul it. So much for the granola-crunching, grow your own food, "sustainable" lifestyle in the SLV, unless one has regular irrigation water rights or an agricultural water well permit.
Jazzlover you obviously aren't aware of non-traditional forms of gardening. Many and I mean many people today are growing food with less space than your suggested 100'x100' or 1/4 acre size gardens. Actually a 1/4 is overkill for a single family.

1. I invite you (and others of course) to look into Aquaponics. If you use this type of system for growing you can use less water and re-use that same amount of water to provide water/nutrients to your plants and at the same time even raise fish.

2. There is also the Hydroponics method.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that you can grow ALL of your food using the 2 methods above. However, with a Aquaponics/Hydroponic and Greenhouse you can do some serious growing and do with with less water than what you are calculating/suggesting that is need to grow vegetables. I am aware of several families in SLV who are doing so i.e. walking the walk and talking the talk.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:02 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertdweller01 View Post
Jazzlover you obviously aren't aware of non-traditional forms of gardening. Many and I mean many people today are growing food with less space than your suggested 100'x100' or 1/4 acre size gardens. Actually a 1/4 is overkill for a single family.

1. I invite you (and others of course) to look into Aquaponics. If you use this type of system for growing you can use less water and re-use that same amount of water to provide water/nutrients to your plants and at the same time even raise fish.

2. There is also the Hydroponics method.

I'm not suggesting for a minute that you can grow ALL of your food using the 2 methods above. However, with a Aquaponics/Hydroponic and Greenhouse you can do some serious growing and do with with less water than what you are calculating/suggesting that is need to grow vegetables. I am aware of several families in SLV who are doing so i.e. walking the walk and talking the talk.
If you are looking to live off the land and generate crops that can be harvested and then preserved or processed to provide food stuffs for year round living, then I'd say Jazz is right on that one.

I've got no doubt that you can use some new techniques but that takes time and money to build and develop and why do it on a dry, cold, high desert area when you can live somewhere else with plenty of water?
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
If you are looking to live off the land and generate crops that can be harvested and then preserved or processed to provide food stuffs for year round living, then I'd say Jazz is right on that one.

I've got no doubt that you can use some new techniques but that takes time and money to build and develop and why do it on a dry, cold, high desert area when you can live somewhere else with plenty of water?
Then my reply to your post is: Since we have the technology available to use, then why not use it to our benefit? The technology affords us the possibility to go and live in places that offer challenges. Yes, most things require some form of money. Buying raw land is cheaper than purchasing land with amenities already available. So if you wanted to someone could take that savings and purchase raw land and put the advance technology to use. Look at how many people lived on raw land without any electricity and now with the advent of Wind/Solar/Renewable Energy people are able to have electricity in areas where is was once unthinkable and do so pretty much cost effectively.

The issue that we are discussing is how to turn SLV land and surrounding areas into habitable areas for the land owner or potential land owners. Growing food is a issue, I have just presented an alternative to water or the availability of it for the purpose of growing food for one's family. I haven't even touched on preserving the foods grown by the methods suggest in the form of Canning, that way you can have many if not most foods available during winter months and this includes Canning of meats as well and the building of Greenhouses, Cold Cellars, Root Cellars and more.

We are living in interesting times and I for one say take advantage of them.

Desert Marine

Last edited by desertdweller01; 05-06-2013 at 11:17 PM.. Reason: added additional suggestions such as canning
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:36 PM
 
9,816 posts, read 19,014,998 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertdweller01 View Post
Then my reply to your post is: Since we have the technology available to use, then why not use it to our benefit? The technology affords us the possibility to go and live in places that offer challenges. Yes, most things require some form of money. Buying raw land is cheaper than purchasing land with amenities already available. So if you wanted to someone could take that savings and purchase raw land and put the advance technology to use. Look at how many people lived on raw land without any electricity and now with the advent of Wind/Solar/Renewable Energy people are able to have electricity in areas where is was once unthinkable and do so pretty much cost effectively.

The issue that we are discussing is how to turn SLV land and surrounding areas into habitable areas for the land owner or potential land owners. Growing food is a issue, I have just presented an alternative to water or the availability of it for the purpose of growing food for one's family. I haven't even touched on preserving the foods grown by the methods suggest in the form of Canning, that way you can have many if not most foods available during winter months and this includes Canning of meats as well and the building of Greenhouses, Cold Cellars, Root Cellars and more.

We are living in interesting times and I for one say take advantage of them.

Desert Marine
It makes no sense to buy scrubland in a very cold high desert area and then spent a fortune in time and money on technology to make it part ways workable, when you can simply live in a place with plenty of water and good soil.

I've talked about this plenty on this forum for years about people that get suckered into buying this cheap, isolated scrubland or old mining claims up at 12,000 ft with no water, decent year round access or other issues. So you get the land cheap and then have to spend a fortune to make it livable or usable.

Even with "technology" you will still need water and plenty of it and that is going to cost some big dollars in the SLV.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:57 PM
 
13 posts, read 62,796 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wanneroo View Post
It makes no sense to buy scrubland in a very cold high desert area and then spent a fortune in time and money on technology to make it part ways workable, when you can simply live in a place with plenty of water and good soil.

I've talked about this plenty on this forum for years about people that get suckered into buying this cheap, isolated scrubland or old mining claims up at 12,000 ft with no water, decent year round access or other issues. So you get the land cheap and then have to spend a fortune to make it livable or usable.

Even with "technology" you will still need water and plenty of it and that is going to cost some big dollars in the SLV.
Thank you for your view point. Those who agree with you will obviously follow your lead. However, those who are current landowners in SLV should know that there are options. BTW, not everyone who buys land in SLV are "suckered into buying cheap isolated land" as you so eloquently put it.

Looking forward to reading more positive views on how to Homestead in SLV effectively. I'll try to get some current residents who actually live there to participate on this thread as they are in a better position to highlight how they are living day to day.

I will say this, building a greenhouse and a decent Aquaponics system will not cost a fortune. Depending on the set-up well under $2000 for feedinf a single family easily. My 5 acre parcel cost me $2549. There is a well near my parcel and it was drilled at 100ft. At a cost of $55 per ft. not bad. Most people will spend well over $30,000 for what you may consider a decent piece of land (5 acres or more with water rights). Again take the savings and put it into your property. Just my 2 cents.

Last edited by Mike from back east; 05-08-2013 at 08:34 AM..
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:08 AM
 
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Thumbs up Prepare thy self (not religious)

I agree with you Rocky Mountain Jim. What you have said is key especially when relocating to a place unfamiliar. I even go one further, if possible; rent in the area first for at least a year, two is better, giving time to really see what you are putting your foot into. If not, visit often, at different times of the year (I'd do this anyway). This may read as a looky-loo method; to me it is not. I look at it as forming a solid foundation, with fewer negative surprises. That said, I have been known to jump in feet first paying for those actions as well.

Buying property unseen is akin to, "what was I /we thinking", in my opinion. Next step, is abandonment of that beautiful property because someone did not take the time, research and efforts to adjust.

I have friends in the area (Lower SLV); they deal with limited electric, hauling water, and high log cordage prices, ($80 per cord, this winter, went through about almost 3 cords per month). This past winter was VERY cold, Arctic cold (30˚BELOW zero with 30 - 60MPH winds). The normal insulation needed to be MORE. There was some serious discussion of why they were there after all these years.

This IS the west, a different mindset is required to thrive. The neighbors are there to help and vice versa. However, one must earn their trust. Don't think that everyone will drop what they are doing and come running, unless the place is on fire; or some serious injury(uncontrolled bleeding) or snake bite; literally. Otherwise, get the skills needed for homesteading, ranching.

Learn how to ride a horse-mule-donkey; use a firearm such as a bb gun, I prefer a crossbow (Bears to snakes to cougars, anything and everything in between come looking for food), learn the "desert shuffle"; wear hats, gloves, and boots; things out in this neck of the woods BITE; inside AND outside. Learn to use an axe, hand tools. There are reasons why most trucks are covered with dust and dirt, cars are a luxury.

I personally wear bells and have them on my grandsons for a reason (and any other child under the age of twelve. IF they know the place and are desert wise; otherwise until the age of 15 years. Then I HOPE they have some desert sense by then). Try to find a gregarious 2 year old in the high desert sagebrush, with NO fencing. I don't believe in tethering any child to the bumper (this is a joke, I would never do this;thinking about it at times…well). I have been known to partner kids up for safety (not for city reasons).

Water is everywhere IF you understand how the desert operates. Use every method in your power to decrease evaporation; in gardening (use the clay pots in the ground method), mulch, so forth. For personal use, oil thy self after showering. Body dry brushing stretches the showers without b/o.

Water is life, utilize EVERY drop (multitasking: grey water for drip irrigation).
NO water, no life. No matter how beautiful the scenery.

If you think you can handle the remoteness, the isolation, not having Mc D's around the corner, or even the ranch supplies store there either. If you can change how things are done, the earned gratitude of your neighbors, you might have a chance. One thing you can say, "there was no, "what if…"".

Most of all have fun, enjoy the result of chores well done while watching that wonderful glowing sunset. Might even get out that old guitar, and strum a few songs; talent not required and neither is a good voice. (could even get on "ol paint" and ride into the sunset) ~~Just joshin'~~

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocky Mountain Jim View Post
Quick Notes:
Google search well drilling prices ($20 to $50 per foot 10/18/12) Plus fees, well head, etc as noted by others. Note CO has new regulations on septic systems. Research.
Native Rock and timber for "homestead" self building are (obviously?) quite limited throughout the SLV.
Know your specific water rights. 35 acres = 1 acre irrigation allowed seems to be a typical scenario in multiple counties.
Water and Mineral rights are separate "properties" from your land, know the details. These are not ness. conveyed with real estate, as is typical in other parts of the country.
Building permits required!
I am hearing "meth labs" a lot, (in person in the valley from local folks) know local crime situation.
I think Saguache has 4 sheriffs for the entire county? (whatever the actual number, it is low given the large area)
LOTS of land - homes available all over the valley. Mus be a reason that SO many properties are for sale . Check it out.
Pricing all over the map on these properties.
If you live center valley (say Moffat) you have about a 45 minute drive to the store. Don't forget gasoline prices! Figure this into your grand plan.
Medical services are typically far away.
Soil quality varies for "self sustaining" gardens.
I have seen Minus 19 degrees in winter on the valley floor (Moffat) and I don't get out there much!
Windy as hell in spring.
Solar is great (320 days + sunshine annually) but the winter sun is low in the south, solar infrastructure is not cheap, powering a well pump is an issue begging for serious research.
Heat in winter is a serious issue. Heating costs. Construction methods (bermed, below grade, south facing heat collection, insulation, and heating energy type (propane, wood, etc) and more must be weighed. It gets COLD in the winter in the SLV.
I see a lot of abandoned construction projects, "homesteads" started in RV trailers, etc.....there are reasons these romantic startups fail. Understand the work required, budget needs, and other issues and save a few years of your life.
Economic opportunities are very limited throughout the SLV.

We (East Coast Family with relatives in the SLV) ABSOLUTELY LOVE the SLV, we feel the magnetic pull of living there EVERY day. I am somewhat impulsive and not shy of change and hard work, and I am a very capable person, however! To me the SLV does not look like a very forgiving place should one make major mistakes, so I am preaching CAUTION to myself every time I get on the subject of moving west.

I imagine we will do it someday soon, but wow, I would not want to do it wrong.

Just a few thoughts! We miss the valley and will be out for Christmas and again in summer next year, hoping to find the right direction toward living there!

Every time I visit the SLV, I am enamored with the vistas, the mountains, the simple life, the draw is unshakeable.

Research on the web! Lots of it! Then in person!

Good Luck everyone.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:28 AM
 
129 posts, read 210,587 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
Now, let's say I have a 100'x100' garden-- ... and you'd be paying $150 per DAY at the above-quoted rate to grow a garden. 50'x50' garden? "Only" $75 per day.
If 100x100 is $150 per day, then 50x50 is $37.50 per day, not $75. (It takes 4 50x50 plots to equal the area of 100x100).

Regardless, those are some expensive tomatoes!
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