Jesus “Chuy” Reyes has stepped down as head of the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1, the county’s largest and most influential irrigation district. 

Reyes has been replaced on an interim basis by irrigation district engineer Al Blair and by Chief Administrative Officer Lisa Aguilar. They were both recently named interim general managers. 

EPCWID1 board members approved a reorganization of the irrigation district at the Nov. 10 meeting. The last public meeting Reyes presented a manager’s report was Oct. 12. 

Board members did not respond to emails for comment. Reyes could not be reached for comment. 

The irrigation district is currently one of the entities embroiled in the U.S. Supreme Court lawsuit over Rio Grande water, as an amici curiae — or “friend of the court.” Reyes told El Paso Matters in an interview earlier this year that the district wants to protect West Texas farmer’s water rights.

Reyes was in his 20th year as the general manager of the irrigation district, which delivers water to farmers in El Paso County. The most recent figure estimates there are about 69,000 irrigated acres in El Paso County ranging from small-quarter acre lots to 3,000-plus acre farms. 

Reyes previously served on the board in 1999, stepping into the role of general manager in 2001, he told El Paso Matters in an interview last year. He is the brother of former U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes.

The loss of irrigated agriculture is one of the region’s greatest threats, he told El Paso Matters, which had to be combated by cooperation in water management at the local and federal levels.  

“Sometimes agencies or people don’t want to give up what they control, but we’re looking at conserving water in every way we can,” he said.

Danielle Prokop is a climate change and environment reporter with El Paso Matters. She’s covered climate, local government and community at the Scottsbluff Star-Herald in Nebraska and the Santa Fe New...