Public Trust Doctrine

In an ongoing effort to inform the public and water community alike, this is the second in a four- part 2014 series related to the Colorado Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) issue. For reference, a four-part series ran in 2013 as well.

Senate Bill 23

On June 5th, Governor Hickenlooper vetoed Senate Bill 23, an agricultural water conservation bill crafted over the course of a year in close partnership with many water interests, including the Governor’s own water policy experts. The bill was designed to incentivize the implementation of irrigation efficiency improvements that would ultimately benefit agricultural operations and Colorado’s rivers and streams. Interestingly, the bill would have only affected West Slope irrigators. Under the bill’s provisions, ranchers, farmers and other agricultural water users could voluntarily implement irrigation and water efficiency measures and ensure that water they save would benefit Colorado’s rivers without risking abandonment of their water rights or harming other users. The result would have been increased private investment in upgrades to and modernization of irrigation infrastructure, healthier rivers and streams, and more resilient farms and ranches. SB 23 had support from many rural Coloradans, major water providers, Colorado’s leading conservation organizations, and Colorado Water Congress, the state’s leading voice for water policy.

HB 14-1222

Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill on May 30th in Pagosa Springs that is designed to boost geothermal energy use in Colorado. House Bill 14-1222, sponsored by Rep. Mike McLachlan (D-Durango), provides an incentive for investments in Colorado’s growing geothermal industry by reducing the threshold at which a county may issue bonds for the construction or expansion of a geothermal project from $1 million to $500,000. The bill also extends the repayment period for the bonds from 10 to 15 years.

July 2, 2014--Talks aim toward consensus (BC Democrat)

Farmers participating on a water panel during the joint summer meeting of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Colorado Livestock Association said efforts at building consensus seem to be bearing fruit. “Environmental groups are starting to recognize what agriculture does for society,” said Carlyle Currier, of Molina.

July 2, 2014--Water plan efforts leading to draft (Fort Morgan Times)

Efforts to develop the first statewide water plan have just wrapped up the first year of work, with the December 2014 deadline for a draft to the governor looming. The Colorado Water Plan draws upon a decade of work by the state's eight basin roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB).

July 1, 2014--Initiatives 75 & 89 granted signature collection (Colorado Water Congress)

Initiative 89 (Local Government Regulation of Environment) was cleared today for signature collection. The Denver Post reports that 100 petition gatherers are busy collecting signatures prior to the August 4 deadline.

July 1, 2014--Colorado Supreme Court blocks environmental ballot proposal (Denver Post)

The Colorado Supreme Court has turned back a ballot proposal that sought to establish a right to clean air, clean water and natural resources in the state because its backers sent a substitute to a state hearing on the measure. The so-called "public trust doctrine" measure, No.

June 29, 2014--Water panel identifies wish list (La Junta Tribune)

During the third annual Protein Producer Summit, a joint summer business meeting of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association and the Colorado Livestock Association, four panelists shared a wish list of items they think could improve the state’s ability to fully capture and utilize its water resources. More storage is needed!

June 28, 2014--The fight over water (Vail Daily)

We live in a semi-arid environment, but we love to play in the water. Take the massive wave park in Glenwood Springs. Surfers love it, but it hasn’t run like this for a few years, says Jim Pokrandt, communications and education director with the Colorado River District. “The bigger the snowpack the bigger the runoff and the bigger the wave at Glenwood Springs.

June 26, 2014--What can local governments do to protect & conserve water? (Post Independent)

As people around the state debate how to make Colorado’s limited water supplies stretch to accommodate nearly twice as many people by 2050, the topic of growth surfaces repeatedly. Some call for outright limits on population growth, while others point out that how communities grow can have as big an impact on their water use as how much they grow.

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