Colorado Water
Dazed and confused coverage of water issues in Colorado

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Wednesday, March 8, 2006

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From today's Denver Post, "The Genesee Water & Sanitation District board has approved spending about $25,000 on staining the downstream face of the district's proposed dam in Bear Creek Canyon and an additional $50,000 on other visual mitigation.

"The action, taken Feb. 28, was requested by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners in response to neighbors' concerns about the visual impact of the 100-foot-high, 500-foot-long dam. The district will hold a public meeting to gather area residents' ideas on how to mitigate the dam's appearance.

"The reservoir and dam are scheduled to be completed and filled with water by the summer of 2007."

Category: Colorado Water

7:13:42 AM    

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HB1352 - Concerning an expansion of water judges's jurisdiction to address the effects of a water right adudication on water quality, made it out of committee with a narrow vote of 6 to 5 Monday, according to the Fort Morgan Times. From the article, "One of the bigger water bills to be presented to Colorado lawmakers this year narrowly received the endorsement Monday of the House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources.

"House Bill 1352, sponsored by Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, would allow water court judges to set terms and conditions for water quality at the point of diversion when considering a change in use of a water right involving at least 1,000 acre-feet of water.

"The committee voted 6-5 to send the measure to the full House for debate. Both Republican Reps. Diane Hoppe of Sterling and Cory Gardner of Wray were opposed, saying they feared the bill would open the door to third-party challenges in water transfers to consider such issues as the impact on aquatic life...

"Hoppe also argued water courts don't have the staff or expertise to make decisions on water quality issues. Currently, water courts consider only the quantity of water and the potential injury to other water right holders in change-of-use cases.

"McFadyen said her bill plugged a hole in current law that fails to protect downstream communities when water is transferred from agriculture to municipal uses. Several southeastern Colorado residents testified during Monday's hearing that water quality is deteriorating in towns along the lower Arkansas River...

"Southern Colorado lawmakers for years have sought to change Colorado water law to force consideration of deteriorating water quality when water is transferred from one use to another. Previous attempts by former House Speaker Lola Spradley, now U.S. Rep. John Salazar and state Rep. Rafael Gallegos, D-Antonito, all have failed.

"The City of Pueblo is one of the biggest proponents of the change as part of its fight with Colorado Springs over the quality of water flowing into the Arkansas River from Fountain Creek...

"And while Hoppe and Gardner both argued the bill could stop all future water exchanges, Rep. Al White of Winter Park said that is exactly why he was the committee's only Republican to vote for it.

"'There may be some instrument within this bill that will make it more difficult to transfer water from the West Slope to the East Slope and if that's the case, I'm happy to see the water stay on the West Slope,' White said. 'It's a positive West Slope bill.'"

Category: Colorado Water

6:56:20 AM    

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There is a modern water war brewing over water from the Arkansas River. The conflict is between the Arkansas Valley vs. Colorado Springs and Aurora. The Pueblo Chieftain editorial staff is rallying the troops to oppose recent water exchange agreements between the Springs and Aurora. The issue highlights the coming problems all across the state and the west in general as water consumers seek to lock up future supplies of over-allocated waterways. Coyote Gulch salutes the Chieftain for keeping these issues out in front of a hard to motivate public. We acknowledge that bashing areas of the state experiencing unbridled growth is an easy target and helps sell papers.

From the opinion piece, "Some of the water officials in the Arkansas Valley are beginning to see just how pernicious their counterparts from Colorado Springs and Aurora are.

"Last year, those two cities filed in the local Water Court applications for Arkansas River water exchanges at sites that are yet to be determined, and for water that is not yet identified.

"Last month, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District charged Colorado Springs and Aurora violated a gentlemen's agreement by filing for those exchanges after previously indicating they would not.

"Now more than 30 statements of opposition to those filings have been registered with the Water Court. While some are objections that normally are stipulated out through negotiations, others are far more substantial and point out just how onerous these applications are.

"The very fact that Colorado Springs and Aurora are seeking these dangerous exchanges should lead everybody in the Arkansas Valley to conclude that those cities have no regard whatsoever for the well-being of this valley. By breaking their promises, they would take every drop of water they could and leave all of us a huge swath of dry land choked by weeds.

"Some of the objections say the new exchanges could violate intergovernmental agreements and even the Arkansas River Compact with Kansas. A few pointedly question the legality of authorizing transfers of water to reservoirs that do not yet exist or are not owned by the cities.

"Perhaps most damning are complaints that the exchange rights themselves violate the anti-speculation doctrine of Colorado water law. It was this doctrine that the Water Court found as the basis to throw out applications for a change of use of water in the Fort Lyon Canal by a Louisiana investor doing business as High Plains A&M.

"Water quality concerns are justifiably raised by numerous parties, including the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Otero County, the City of Pueblo, Bessemer Ditch and St. Charles Mesa.

"The Pueblo Board of Water Works argues that Colorado Springs' applications fail to identify specific points of exchange or even how much water would be exchanged. The Bureau of Reclamation complains that the exchanges could damage operations of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project."

Category: Colorado Water

6:46:02 AM    

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