State Representative Sal Pace plans to introduce legislation requiring mitigation for transbasin diversions

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Pace said Friday he plans to introduce a bill during the upcoming Legislative session that would require advanced mitigation of economic and ecological effects on originating communities when water is transferred. On the other side of the fight are the communities that would be the water’s destination. And they’ve prevailed in the past.

Presently, a water judge can only consider senior water rights in determining whether to allow transfers. Pace said it’s archaic that ecological damage is not a consideration in the process. He pointed to Crowley County’s meager average annual household income for a family of four – $18,000 – as an example of the aftermath of water transfers conducted without regard to economic or ecological impact on a region. Generally, he said, urban centers are sated at the expense of rural areas by benefiting from the transfers. Consequently, Pace’s proposed legislation would require water divisions seeking to receive transfers to reach economic and ecological mitigation agreements with the originating communities before the transfers could be approved in Water Court. If a mitigation agreement could not be reached, a judge would have to rule on one.

The existing law governing mitigation of water transfers – the Conservancy District Act – was adopted in 1937 and only requires mitigation when water transfers come from the Western Slope across the Continental Divide. Pace’s bill would extend that mitigation requirement to all transfers between two water districts. State Sen. Dan Gibbs, a Western Slope Democrat, is the bill’s Senate sponsor. A similar bill was proposed in 2004, but it died in the House.

Here’s a roundup of planned legislation from Arkansas Valley legislators, from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain.

Here’s a look at some of the movers and shakers in the state legislature, from Joe Hanel writing for The Durango Herald.

Here’s a look at Northern Colorado legislators’ plans, from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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