Bill to be introduced next session would allow water courts to consider additional mitigation before water is moved out of the basin of origin

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We’ve all seen examples of bad buy-and-dries in the state,” said Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo. “With water folks itchy to move as much water as possible, we have to leave sidebars on to leave water in rural communities for our lifetimes and for our grandchildren’s lifetimes. If we don’t, we’re not going to see any little towns.” Pace will begin explaining his proposal at public meetings this week, beginning with a Colorado Water Congress committee Friday. He is also planning meetings with other groups in the near future…

The bill would allow judges in water courts to consider additional mitigation on any transfer of water between any of the state’s seven divisions – water administration units set up along the state’s major watersheds. Judges would be able to apply guidelines already set out in the 1937 state act governing conservancy districts. “There’s nothing new there. That’s a law that’s been on the books for 70 years,” Pace said. However, the provisions of that act would be widened to cover transfers from basins other than the Colorado River, all beneficial uses and any water exporter, not just conservancy districts. Alternatively, water exporters could develop mitigation plans with conservancy districts to avoid court-imposed actions…

“The bill doesn’t define the type of mitigation or limit what can be in the agreement,” Pace said. “On the Western Slope it might mean compensatory storage, while in Otero County it could mean money for schools.” The bill would not apply to in-basin transactions that do not cross state water district boundaries, such as the purchase of shares on the Bessemer Ditch by the Pueblo Board of Water Works, Pace said.

More transmountain/transbasin diversions coverage here.

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