Here’s a column from State Representative Clarice Navarro urging the legislature to reject expanded authority for the State Engineer, under HB13-1130: Reapprove Interruptible Water Supply Agreements. From the column:
Colorado Water Law is a unique, complex series of statutes, court cases and decreed water rights. This framework of laws is designed to protect people who do not live next to the river, but have a real need to use the water that flows from snowmelt in the spring and summer months.
Some of my colleagues in the state Legislature are seeking to change this system in favor of benefiting large cities such as Aurora and Denver at the expense of rural Colorado.
House Bill 1130 seeks to extend the operation of interruptible water supply agreements in Colorado. Because of the arid nature of our state, the Legislature entrusts the Colorado water courts to oversee the decreed water rights in order to ensure that people with junior water rights are treated equitably with those who have senior water rights.
This bill gives the Colorado water engineer the ability to grant interruptible supply agreements in three-year increments outside of court oversight for up to 30 years. Only after the state engineer has made a determination can someone appeal to water court. This simply entrusts the state engineer with more authority, and it will lead to rural Coloradans losing the water to large, metropolitan areas of the state.
Southern Colorado cannot stand for this. There are better ways for the Legislature to allow, in times of drought, the ability to divert water out of priority. The current network of laws, in my opinion, adequately addresses all surface water rights. I hope that my fellow legislators are able to work together and defeat HB 1130. This is bad legislation for Southern Colorado.
More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.