HB09-1233: Recognize acequias

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Here’s a look at State Representative Ed Vigil’s HB09-1233 which would recognize acequia ditch corporations under Colorado water law, from Charles Ashby writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Long before [prior appropriation] laws were put in place, Hispanic settlers in Colorado had and still use a different way of allocating water use among themselves, using something called acequias. Now, under a bill working its way through the Legislature, ancestors of those first settlers will be able to ensure that practice can continue by forming their own ditch companies to help manage water use. An acequia (pronounced “a-see-ke-a”) is Spanish for “community ditch.”[…]

“The Hispanic culture has a communal way of doing business,” Vigil told the Senate Local Affairs Committee on Tuesday, which approved his HB1233 on a unanimous vote. “This is the way the water was managed, not by ownership, not as a commodity, but rather a shared ownership to the water. This is to preserve that land, to preserve that water, and to preserve these people’s continued way of life.”

The bill would ensure that the communal practice of allocating water and maintaining a ditch are as they’ve always been while, at the same time, allow it to operate similar to any other ditch company. Under the bill:

District members can hold elections based on each landowner getting a single vote.

Require each landowner who gets water from the acequia to contribute to the labor needed to maintain or repair the ditch or pay an assessment in lieu of doing that work.

Hold a right of first refusal on any sale, lease or exchange of surface water from an acequia that is used to irrigate long-lot land…

Most acequias in the state operate along tributaries near small towns along the New Mexico border.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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