Crestone Eagle, November 2005:
Boyce law suit to be heard in January; Status Conference to be held Nov. 8
by David Nicholas
On January 30, 2006, Gary Boyce and Others v. the State of
Colorado and in particular the State water Engineer will go
before O. John Kuenhold in Alamosa in case that may take six
weeks to decide. But a status conference, where some of the
oral arguments will be presented, will be held on November
Ever since Mr. Boyce bought the Cotton Creek Ranch in late
2003 for $4m plus, the speculation has always been that he
plans another water development project. When Mr. Boyce, through
his companies SLV Water Company, Cotton Creek Circles, LLC,
and the lobby group Colorado Home Owners Association, filed
suit against the state last year when the new water regulations
for the confined aquifer below the San Luis Valley were promulgated,
it was much akin to firing a shot across the bow of his enemies.
Whether Mr. Boyce is really serious about exporting the water
which flows on top of or under the Cotton Creek Ranch, which
he purchased with considerable water rights — but nothing
like the water rights on the Baca Ranch, he has challenged
the assumptions of the study which were used to create the
water regulations. The lawsuit cited 26 opinions, many of
them challenging the general assumptions on which the Rio
Grande Decision Support System (RGDSS) is based. The state
regulations would protect the confined aquifer, ensuring that
the water system in the San Luis Valley remain in balance.
The RGDSS study was a product of legislation passed in 1998,
co-sponsored by then-Representative Lewis Entz (R-Mosca),
now our state Senator, and former-State Senator Gigi Dennis,
now our Secretary of State. The legislation was designed to
find out more about how the confined aquifer works, how it
is recharged, and if subsidence of the valley floor would
occur if large amounts of water were pumped out of aquifer.
The study was completed in 2004.
Bringing the lawsuit means to many that Mr. Boyce has something
serious in mind. There was a time when Mr. Boyce was opposed
to water exportation. He had a change of heart sometime from
1990-92. When asked in 1995 why water exportation mattered
to him, notes indicate his reply was simply, “Water
is gold.” So while the water on or under Cotton Creek
Ranch is not enough for the heavy infrastructure investment
by interested front range counties and cities right now, there
could be a time in the future where it may prove economically
Mr. Boyce may be gambling that this time is not too far off,
so opposing any regulations, which could thwart his plans
in the future, is worth the price of a costly lawsuit. When
he purchased the Baca Ranch, he had to do it with partners
to finance the project. This time he controls the source by
himself and has all the time in the world.
Whether he wins the lawsuit or not remains to be seen. His
opponents are organized and ready. They are some of the same
people who fought him when he owned the Baca Ranch. They are
the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, the Conejos Water
District and the Rio Grande Water Users.
This is going to be quite some fight. Stay tuned.
Some information on the current lawsuit was gleaned from
Ruth Heide’s article in the Valley Courier on Tuesday
October 25, 2005.
to the Eagle!