Water Law

2016 Legislative Updates

Listed below are the legislative updates from the Colorado Water Congress State Affairs meetings. The Board of the Southwestern Water Conservation District provides this as a service to those interested in water related legislation during the 2011 session.  We hope that you find the updates beneficial.
 
Bruce Whitehead
Executive Director


Helping Good Samaritans Clean Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines

For years Colorado legislatures have been trying to pass laws that would make it easier for groups to clean up toxic pollution from abandoned mines. These groups, which are not responsible for the pollution but want to clean it up anyway, are called, appropriately enough, Good Samaritans.


February 5, 2016--The right to waste water: In the west, water users forced to use it or lose it (Pro Publica)

High in the Rocky Mountains, snowmelt fills a stream that trickles down into Ohio Creek and then onward toward the Upper Gunnison River.


January 21, 2016--Colorado delegation poised to introduce Good Samaritan mine cleanup bill (Durango Herald)

Legislation to allow organizations the opportunity to clean up abandoned mines with liability protection is on the cusp of being introduced in the U.S. Congress. Colorado U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican, are preparing to introduce Good Samaritan legislation along with Rep.


January 18, 2016--Rain barrel proposal drizzles down on Colorado Legislature (Durango Herald)

Another attempt to allow Coloradans to collect rain water that falls on their roofs has started with a drizzle of legislation. Reps.


January 9, 2016--How the feds can ensure Western states get more water in 2016 (High Country News)

This summer, as California was struggling through its fourth and most severe year of drought, two California Congressmen unveiled legislation meant to ease the pain. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Rep. David Valadao (R) introduced, respectively, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 and the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015.


Bennet Update and Ditch Irrigation Bill

According to a recent press release from his office, in mid-December Colorado Senator Michael Bennet helped pass a year-end bill that involved numerous Colorado priorities. These included financial support for the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program, as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill contains $157 million for the EWP Program, which aids people and organizations in watersheds following natural disasters like floods and wildfires. The LWCF was reauthorization for three years (to September 30, 2018). According to a Coyote Gulch aticle, in 2016 Bennet is working to pass Senate Bill 384, known as the ditch irrigation bill. The bill would allow mutual irrigation companies, which are nonprofits generally owned by local farmers, to lease water to local entities to earn revenue to pay for repairs on aging infrastructure. Under the current tax code these companies could lose their nonprofit status by profiting from water leasing. Bennet and U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, will have their names on the bill when it goes to the Senate in February. 


Here’s What’s Going on With Colorado Legislation…, by Emily Brumit, Water Policy Analyst, Colorado Water Congress

-  Richard Hamilton, a long-time proponent of the Public Trust Doctrine, has drafted a bill on Water Districts. The full title is: A Proposed New General Law Applicable to All Colorado Watersheds, Flood Control, and Greenway Districts. It’s been floated out to a number of legislators, but as of yet nobody has picked it up.

-  Representative KC Becker’s bill, which has been deemed an “accounting bill,” would require "covered entities" defined as a municipality, agency, utility including privately owned utilities, or any other publicly owned entities supplying retail water to customers having a total annual demand of 2000 acre feet or more per year to submit a completed and validated water loss audit report. Rules and performance standards would be set by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, who would contribute money to assist those covered entities to comply. 


December 11, 2015--Lake Nighthorse water-rights settlement pushed to Jan. 15 (Durango Herald)

A ruling on the settlement agreement reached last month in the years-long Animas-La Plata Project legal battle over water rights to Lake Nighthorse was continued to Jan.


October 14, 2015--US Senator Bennet calls for passage of SB 384 — The ditch irrigation bill (Greeley Tribune)

Bennet visited a farm west of Eaton early Monday afternoon to learn about ditch irrigation, hoping to take what he learned back to Washington to help pass Senate Bill 384, known as the ditch irrigation bill, an effort to amend the tax code to facilitate water leasing and water transfers to promote conservancy and efficiency.


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