June 5, 2012--Water to the people (High Country News)

I hadn’t realized until I got an (en masse) email from Senator Mark Udall recently, that we’re celebrating water in Colorado this year. He and Sen. Michael Bennet introduced a resolution in May recognizing 2012 as the “Year of Water.” The declaration piggybacks on governor Hickenlooper’s “Colorado Water 2012” initiative which, among the goals of reminding citizens that water is liquid gold here, is intended to “motivate Coloradans to become proactive participants in Colorado’s water future.” It may not be quite what those politicians had in mind, but two motivated Coloradans have made news recently with controversial proposals to amend the state constitution in a way that would dramatically change water management in the state, valuing public use over private and limiting water diversions that negatively affect public uses. Phil Doe of Littleton and Richard Hamilton of Fairplay have introduced Public Trust Initiatives #3 and #45. The first measure would apply the common-law doctrine of “public trust” to water rights, and make “public ownership of such water legally superior to water rights, contracts, and property law.” Initiative 3 would also grant unrestricted public access to natural streams and their banks. The second measure proposes to amend Article XVI, Section 6 of the state constitution, which talks about the diversion of un-appropriated waters of natural streams. Initiative 45 seeks to limit, and possibly prohibit, stream diversions that would “irreparably harm the public ownership interest in water.” 

To view the full article, visit the High Country News. For a copy of the original article contact the WIP at (970) 247-1302 or stop by the office at 841 East Second Avenue in Durango, Colorado.