Mosca-Hooper Conservation District Receives Grant Funding to Expand Pilot Hydrogeology Study

The Mosca-Hooper Conservation District has been awarded a $43,000 grant from the Rio Grande Basin Account of the Colorado Water Conservation Board to expand upon the San Luis Valley Recharge Optimization Pilot Project, a hydrogeology study to inform site-specific groundwater recharge potential in the San Luis Valley.

Grant funds from MillerCoors in the amount of $10,000 and from the Colorado State Conservation Board in the amount of $20,265 have been previously awarded to allow this project to begin in spring 2019.

This pilot-scale project will work to map depths from 5 feet to 40 feet below soil surface and is intended to locate site-specific differences in impediments to recharge, information useful to water managers to allow surface water to be routed to locations where recharge has the greatest potential. In 2019, a small-scale project will be undertaken, to validate the utility and applicability of this approach to broader areas of land surface within the San Luis Valley.

Mosca-Hooper Conservation District is partnered with Dr. Kate Zeigler, owner of Zeigler Geologic Consulting LLC, a consulting business based in Albuquerque, NM specializing in groundwater resource management for agricultural areas, to perform the study.

As of 2012, San Luis Valley water users have been mandated by the State of Colorado to achieve recharge in its unconfined aquifer systems to the point of reaching State-defined sustainable water levels by the end of year 2031. To accomplish this task valley-wide, in excess of 600,000 acre-feet of water will need to be recharged into the unconfined aquifer systems of the region to meet this requirement during the remaining 12 years of the recovery period. Should recharge not progress as required, use of wells for irrigation could be restricted severely or turned off entirely by the State.

When recommending the project for funding, Colorado Water Conservation Board Project Manager Megan Holcomb said, “This project assists in satisfying Colorado’s Water Plan Critical Goals and Actions in helping to sustain a productive economy that supports viable and productive agriculture while promoting water management and administrative practices that are adaptive, flexible, and responsive to optimize multiple benefits. Building these data sets for a large area is critical in the understanding of groundwater resources and can be used to establish a long-term education and outreach effort for water use and needs in the San Luis Valley/Rio Grande Basin. This project addresses the dual problems of both preserving the existing groundwater resources and attempting to restore these resources by generating novel geophysical data sets paired with existing public information.”

Mosca-Hooper Conservation District is a special district within the State of Colorado responsible for facilitating natural resource conservation opportunities for landowners within Alamosa County. The District’s efforts at incentivizing soil and water conservation and soil health building practices are long-standing, working alongside farmers and ranchers in the region to implement voluntary conservation efforts and regenerative farming practices. Mosca-Hooper Conservation District is a member of the Rio Grande Association of Conservation Districts, and financially supports the educational work of the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative (RGWCEI), and the advocacy and education work of the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) around soil health and watershed stewardship.

Each of the above organizations assists the District in informing a broader audience of landowners, policy makers, and members of the general public about our soil health and watershed stewardship efforts. These partners of Mosca-Hooper Conservation District will be further engaged to help convey the outcomes of this project to a broad audience.