2012 Colorado election: The Colorado Water Congress issues an alert for Public Trust Initiatives #3 and #45


From email from the Colorado Water Congress (Doug Kemper):

On Wednesday, the Title Board approved ballot titles on Public Trust Initiatives #3 and #45. The Water Congress will request a Rehearing on Initiative #45. That should take place on January 18. (Rehearing on Initiative #3 has already occurred.) Copies of the initiatives, ballot titles, and related information are attached and may be found on our website.

The Colorado Water Congress Board has unanimously voted to authorize appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court the action by the Title Board on both Public Trust Initiatives. We are seeking financial contributions for these appeals. If you are wish to contribute toward this effort (in any amount), please send me an email at dkemper@cowatercongress.org.

The sponsors’ basic premise is that the Colorado legislature and the courts have contravened the public’s ownership interest in water and the public trust initiatives are their way of tackling numerous injustices. If these initiatives pass, every water right in the state will be subject to reconsideration as to whether it is in the public’s interests. Further, discharges that are found to cause harm to the natural environment will also be subject to reexamination. And anyone could travel through private property to access the public’s waters (now all water in the Colorado) as long as they stay within the natural high water line.

After the unpleasant experience with Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101; the days are gone where we can afford to let such ballot initiatives travel through the system without challenge. This system is heavily weighted in the favor of ballot proponents and legal action is very difficult.

For public entities, this appeal is your only opportunity to financially contribute toward action on the public trust initiatives. If they become certified for the ballot, your activities are severely restricted by law. Because the Colorado Water Congress receives a portion of its funding from public entities, we face the same restrictions.

Additional initiative information is available on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website at: www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/InitiativesHome.html.

If you wish to listen to the archived audio of the hearing on Wednesday, you may access it at http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/info_center/audioArchives.html.

More coverage from Patrick Malone writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Richard Hamilton of Fairplay has been making the argument that water and its use should be at the discretion of all people in the state — not just those that the doctrine of prior appropriation ascribes rights to. He wants to institute guidelines for water that predate the Colorado Constitution, and subsequently were undone by the General Assembly. “The state constitution is very explicit that water is owned by the public,” Hamilton said, and he wants it reiterated by his initiative…

Five times between 1994 and 2002, Hamilton’s ballot proposals have met with rejection. But that hasn’t stopped him from bringing back two more with an eye on this year’s November ballot…

Hamilton’s proposals seeks constitutional amendments that would give citizens control of tributary and nontributary water in Colorado, require appropriators of water (oil and gas drilling operations or industry, for instance) to replace what they take with clean water and give citizens standing to sue if they believe water is being misused. They also aim to allow unfettered recreational access to streams and place public health and well-being ahead of other uses of water, including contractual allocation and senior water rights.

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.

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