Colorado Water Congress 2012 Annual Convention: State lawmakers oppose public trust measures on fall ballot


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“If we don’t defeat these initiatives, those uneducated about water will take control and irrigated agriculture will cease to be important,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, D-Sterling…

The [Colorado Water Congress] has opposed two initiatives by Richard Hamilton of Fairplay and his attorney Phil Doe of Littleton. Those measures seek to supplant constitutional provisions that form the basis for Colorado’s prior appropriation doctrine and replace it with a public trust doctrine. The CWC has hired attorney Steve Leonhardt to fight the ballot initiatives during the early stages and has received support of other water groups, such as the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, in its effort. The CWC plans to appeal the state title board’s approval of ballot measures 3 and 45 because they include multiple subjects in violation of Colorado law, Leonhardt said…

Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, said more education of the state’s population about water issues is needed to defeat such ballot measures.

More coverage of the CWC annual convention from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The good news is that Colorado is coming out of the recession. It’s slow. It’s hard, but it’s there,” said Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, chairwoman of the Joint Budget Committee. The state has siphoned $200 million in mineral severance funds meant for water projects to bolster the general fund since 2008.

This has the potential to damage water availability in the future as more projects are backlogged. “We need something to show our grandchildren about our investment in water in Colorado,” said Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village…

“Without water, we have limited jobs and growth,” [State Representative Jerry Sonnenberg] said. “We have water leaving the state beyond our compact obligations. Water storage has to be a priority.”

More 2012 Colorado legislation coverage here.

2 thoughts on “Colorado Water Congress 2012 Annual Convention: State lawmakers oppose public trust measures on fall ballot

  1. The cries about public trust doctrine superceding appropriation doctrine are totally false. The public trust doctrine exists in Colorado waters, subject to common law interpretation by the courts, as basic principle and condition of statehood. Colorado received navigable waters in trust, regardless of whether the water is privately or publicly owned. In those appropriation doctrine states that have expressly recognized the public trust doctrine by consititution or statute, the courts have balanced public trust and appropriation uses. The Colorado consititution has recognized that water is in the principle from the beginning. The public trust is implied if not incorporated by such recognition. Anyone opposed to the Colorado initiatives is too tied to special interests and uses, and ignoring the above and the basic principle that private water use, like riparian and appropriation, lay side by side with public, but in the end the public cannot be dominated or subordinated to private. This is simply basic common sense, that air, water, and other commons, recognized for centuries, are not controlled by private interests for primarily private gain and purposes.

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