SB13-041 passes agriculture committee — defines firefighting and drought mitigation as beneficial uses #coleg

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel) via the Cortez Journal:

Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, won unanimous support for Senate Bill [13-041] in the agriculture committee. Her bill counteracts a 2011 court ruling on the Yampa River that said reservoir owners can’t get an absolute right to water in their reservoirs unless it is all put to a “beneficial use.”

Colorado law has a “use it or lose it” approach to water, in order to prevent hoarding or speculation. But legislators and their allies in the water business think the court took that doctrine to an extreme…

Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead said that unless the bill passes and reverses the Supreme Court ruling, utilities would have to suck their reservoirs dry before they could get new water rights…

The bill declares that storing water for firefighting and drought mitigation is a beneficial use, and it says water rights can’t be considered to be abandoned when the water is in long-term storage.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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