20th Annual South Platte Forum

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The first session of day one of the 20th Annual South Platte Forum featured water law.

Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs took the opportunity to look back in time at the history of water legislation and court decisions in the state. “Colorado from the outset has understood that it takes all three branches of government to administer water,” he said.

University of Colorado law professor, David Getches, attempted a look forward in time. Climate change is the great unknown, he said. There is a 6 – 20% chance that the two large Colorado River reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Meade — could go dry if drought settles in permanently in the southwest U.S.

He also thinks that there is a chance that a Front Range water authority will form to coordinate water issues and supplies. He posits a goal of 150 gallons per capita per day for the metro area. He also envisions an agreement for the management of the Colorado River based on the 2007 agreement for managing Lake Mead and Lake Powell during serious drought events.

Colorado Water Quality Control Commission administrator, Paul Frohardt’s subject was “Twenty years of water quality policy.” He told the conference water quality law is a relatively recent phenomena. It came into existence in the 1970s with landmark environmental legislation such as the Clean Water Act.

He listed a few challenges that may be ahead for Coloradans. Population growth is foremost. “More people means more waste,” he said. He is an advocate for good samaritan legislation that would exempt certain third parties from liability under the Clean Water Act for efforts to clean up mines.

More Colorado water coverage here.

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