HB 10-1159 clears the House Agriculture Committee

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Patrick Malone):

Opponents said Rep. Sal Pace’s proposed law to mitigate economic and ecological impacts of originating communities in water transfers duplicates processes already in place, but the bill passed through committee by a 9-4 vote. Urban water interests and some agricultural voices offered the criticisms Wednesday during a House Agriculture Committee meeting of HB1159, offered by Pace, D-Pueblo…

“There are economic effects when water leaves a community, and there are ecological effects when water leaves a community. There are staggering effects on a community when water leaves it,” Pace said. The inspiration for the bill, Pace said, rests in Southern Colorado history. “The primary need for this bill is the dry-up that occurred in Crowley County in the 1970s,” Pace said, when agriculture was thriving, but the Twin Lakes Canal was sold. “Today, economically Crowley County has the highest poverty rate in the state and the lowest income per capita in the state,” Pace said.

Representatives of the Denver and Aurora water boards, the North Sterling Irrigation District, the South Platte Water Conservancy District and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District said the water roundtables created by the Legislature five years ago do an ample job of bringing stakeholders together to address economic and ecological impacts of water transfers. Combined with state and federal rules on ecology and laws that give recourse to water rights owners harmed by transfers, the groups said Pace’s concerns in the bill are already addressed. Water lawyer Peggy Montano called the portion of Pace’s bill that sends unresolved mitigation agreements to water court “planting a litigation garden for the future.”[…]

Jay Winner of the Lower Arkansas Conservancy District, said that group supports the bill. “I think it’s productive to start out with a cooperative relationship,” between originators or destinations of water that’s transferred, he said. Winner said the current water transfer checks and balances work well, and called Pace’s proposal “a parallel course” that in tandem with present protocols could improve them.

Chris Treese, representing the Colorado River District, said the bill would compel parties involved in negotiating water transfers to work out differences that otherwise might never be resolved.

More 2010 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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