S.B. 09-147, Water Supply Plans Pre-2003 Depletions

A picture named southplattealluvialaquifer.jpg

Here’s a look at S.B. 09-147 — legislation that will give some groundwater irrigators a break on water they pumped from the South Platte alluvial aquifer prior to 2003 — by allowing augmentation using leased water, from K.C. Mason writing for the Sterling Jounral Advocate. From the article:

A new law allowing South Platte River well users to use leased water for payment of past depletions in decreed augmentation plans is being hailed as proof that groundwater and surface users can resolve their differences. The heavy hitters attending a recent bill-signing news conference emphasized the importance of Senate Bill 147 to the agriculture economy of northeastern Colorado…

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, and Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, will allow groundwater irrigators to buy or lease water from wherever they can, including the Colorado-Big Thompson project, for use in substitute water plans that are recognized in water court. Before the new law, well users could not get decreed water rights without paying back depletions from pumping between 1974, when wells were brought into the prioritization system, and 2003, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled in the Empire Lodge case that the state engineer no longer could approve annual substitute plans. “The key is that they won’t have to keep going back to water court to amend their augmentation plans, which is both costly and time consuming,” [Harris Sherman, DNR director] said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

Leave a Reply