From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Five bills to protect water rights, another to change stormwater permit process and two resolutions were approved last week by the interim water resources committee. The actions represent concerns brought to the committee, which includes members of both houses, over the last two months by water users throughout the state. They will be referred to the full Legislature in 2013.
One seeks to address questions of the amount and location of acreage intended to be irrigated by older water rights. When the water rights are changed in court, lawyers argue over the original intent of the irrigator. The new law would change the determination to the maximum amount of land irrigated during the first 50 years after the original decree. It would apply to water rights claimed more than 75 years ago, when it is unlikely that those who claimed the right would still be living to testify about intent.
Other bills involving water rights protection include:
● A remedy for erroneous points of diversion caused by technical errors or refinements in surveys. The bill would allow water rights to be more easily amended.
● A bill to promote conservation of water in designated groundwater basins by avoiding penalizing those who conserve water, while maintaining the volume authorized by a groundwater commission.
● A measure that limits a landowner’s ability to impose restrictions on water rights used on that land. The bill was inspired by the U.S. Forest Service attempt to tie up ski area water rights.
● Deletion of the requirement for a final permit for wells in the Denver Basin aquifers. Another bill would require the state to follow rule making procedures when changing stormwater permits.
That would mean the state providing permit holders a basis for the changes, evidence about why the change is needed and a costbenefit analysis.
The resolutions oppose diverting mineral severance tax revenues from water projects to meet funding needs in other parts of the state budget and oppose the Forest Service water permit requirement for ski areas.
More 2013 Colorado Legislation coverage here.