2012 Colorado November election: The Colorado Water Congress is working to keep ‘Public Trust Initiatives’ off the ballot

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From the Associated Press via The Columbus Republic:

Denver-area resident Phillip Doe has proposed amending the state constitution to highlight a clause that says streams are the property of the public — and making the public ownership legally superior to longstanding water rights.

A related proposal would spell out in the constitution that water rights can be constricted to prohibit uses that would harm the public’s ownership in the water…

The Colorado Water Congress is going through the Colorado Supreme Court to try to keep the measures off the ballot.

Here’s the CWC’s summary of the initiatives and the sponsor responses to CWC staff questions.

Mr. Doe was at the Downstream Neighbor 2012 Symposium last week and said that they had a huge task ahead of them in collecting enough signatures. He asked the attendees for help. I gave him my business card with the hopes that he would contact me so that I can sit down with him with a few questions. So far I haven’t heard from him. Mr. Doe?

More coverage from Catharine Tsai writing for the Associated Press via CBS4Denver.com. From the article:

Denver-area resident Phillip Doe has proposed amending the constitution to highlight the clause saying streams are public property – and making the public ownership legally superior to longstanding water rights, contracts or property law. A related proposal would spell out in the constitution that water rights can be constricted to prohibit uses that would harm the public’s ownership in the water, and water that goes back into rivers would have to be returned unimpaired.

“It reaffirms and reasserts that the public of Colorado owns the water, and the state has an obligation to protect the public’s interests,” said attorney Richard Hamilton, who is working with Doe…

Efforts are under way to keep Doe’s proposals from making the ballot. The Colorado Water Congress, which includes water users and state agencies, is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to decide whether each proposal properly asks voters to consider only one issue.

Doe said if voters approve the proposals, farmers may not be able to exercise their water rights on rivers during droughts, for example, if that would dry up a river. He also said the proposals could prevent water from being used for hydraulic fracturing, though he said that wasn’t his intent in promoting the proposals.

Doe said he’s been disappointed with Front Range water providers’ plans to tap the Fraser and Cache la Poudre rivers to serve growing cities. Strengthening public’s ownership in state waters would prevent rivers from being polluted or depleted, he said.

“We’re down to our last drop of water. It’s time the public starts asserting its right to that which it owns,” Doe said…

“It’s too extreme, it’s too reckless,” Western Resource Advocates spokesman Jason Bane said of Doe’s proposals. “At the same time, we understand why this is coming up.”

More 2012 Colorado November election coverage here.

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