HB 10-1188 (Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right): Colorado Water Congress’ Doug Kemper says the bill is, ‘is a failure to use the network’

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The head of the [Colorado Water Congress] said this has been a “failure” in water negotiations. While emotions run high over the bill, it is actually an example of how the connections often promoted by the CWC broke down in this case, said Doug Kemper, CWC executive director, at the Arkansas River Basin Water Forum at The Abbey this week. “HB1188 is a failure to use the network,” he said…

The House in February passed a version that gave both commercial rafters the right to float through property around obstacles. The Senate last month passed a different version of the bill, saying current law is unclear and ordering a study of the issue by the Colorado Water Congress to be completed by Oct. 31. The House has yet to reconsider the bill…

The original bill, drafted by Rep. Kathleen Curry, Unaffiliated-Gunnison, had warning flags for the water community, particularly in referring to English common law and the right of navigability, Kemper said. “The CWC came out opposed to the bill,” Kemper said. “Our concern was the word navigable has a meaning at the federal level that starts bringing in federal regulations. “We also wanted to make sure water rights operations were not impacted either with diversion structures or permitting on projects.”

In Colorado, the rafting issue is clouded by a state Supreme Court ruling that said there was no right to float across private property and a subsequent ruling by a state attorney general that said rafters made no criminal trespass if they float through private property, provided they do not touch the banks or bed of the stream…

Kemper said the various ballot titles might boil down to “two or three on each side,” and said regardless of which path the Legislature takes, some are likely to reach the ballot. “It’s coming down to rafters vs. property interests, and if that happens, it’s a failure of the network,” Kemper said. Kemper, who worked for the City of Aurora as it developed water interests in the Arkansas River basin, said the flow agreements and formation of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area show where cooperation can lead. “There has been too much hard work in the Arkansas Valley between rafting interests and the water rights holders for this to become a wedge,” Kemper said.

More HB 10-1188 coverage here.

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District approves purchase of three High Line Canal farms

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

he water district will pay three sellers $1.79 million for 41.2 shares of High Line Canal water rights if the sales are closed following due diligence investigations. The purchase would amount to $4,300 per acre. A smaller water right is also included in the package. The farms are a small part of the High Line’s 2,250 shares, and all are near the end of the 85-mile long ditch in Otero County. The High Line diverts south of the Arkansas River east of Boone and ends at Timpas Creek.

“We anticipate using the water in accordance with our exchange decree filed in December,” said Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor district. Under that application, water would be exchanged upstream along the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek to Woodmoor, which is in the far northern part of El Paso County, just east of Interstate 25…

Woodmoor would still need to obtain approval from the High Line board and obtain a change of use decree in Division 2 Water Court to move the water. The district does not know when it would seek those changes, Shaffer said…

Two conservancy districts are opposing Woodmoor’s exchange application in Water Court. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board voted to file a statement of opposition in the case in January in order to protect its own exchange capacity on the Arkansas River below Pueblo Dam, which eventually will be needed for the Arkansas Valley Conduit. The district also is concerned the Woodmoor exchange could use Lake Pueblo, part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, to take water outside the district’s boundaries. The Lower Arkansas Valley Conservancy District opposed the Woodmoor exchange application largely because it could be used to move water outside the Arkansas River basin…

Woodmoor serves 8,400 people in 3,300 homes. About 400 of the homes are on the other side of the Palmer Divide in the South Platte River basin. All sewer return flows from the district come down Monument Creek, but flows from lawn watering on some homes would end up in the South Platte basin, Shaffer said…

Woodmoor, a part of the [Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority], dropped out of Super Ditch negotiations because of the objections to taking water over the Palmer Divide.

More infrastructure coverage here.