HB 10-1159: Mitigation for water exports and HB 10-1188: Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right

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From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel):

Pace’s House Bill 1159 would apply to water imports of more than 1,000 acre-feet – enough for a few thousand suburban families. Anyone who wanted to import water would have to strike a “mitigation agreement” with the water conservancy district in the wet basin. The idea would put the water importer at a disadvantage because the water district has no incentive to negotiate, said Rod Kuharich, head of the South Metro Water Supply Authority. Kuharich’s district serves Douglas County, and it is scouring the state for water supplies. “I think it’s just another hurdle – adding more cost to providing water service,” Kuharich said. The Southwestern Water Conservation District hasn’t taken a position on HB 1159, said vice president Steve Fearn. But the district – which serves the area from Pagosa Springs to the Dolores River – has opposed past bills. Water commonly is transferred among Southwest Colorado’s many river basins. That’s why the conservation district opposed a previous bill…

The Water Congress’ legislative committee voted overwhelmingly to oppose the bill earlier this year. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing Wednesday in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee…

Rep. Kathleen Curry, I-Gunnison, has introduced [HB 10-1188] to allow river rafters to touch the riverbank or portage around hazards, even if the land is private property. Colorado courts have ruled that the rivers – which belong to the public – are open to boating, as long as boaters don’t touch the ground or the riverbed on private property. Curry’s bill would slightly expand the rights of boaters. She introduced it after a landowner near Gunnison moved to block rafting companies from the Taylor River, which flows through his land. The bill is scheduled for its first hearing Feb. 8 in the House Judiciary Committee.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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