2013 Colorado legislation: Northern Water hopes to push graywater reclamation bill this session #COleg


From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):

Colorado water law allows just one use of water before it goes down the drain, through a wastewater treatment plant and back into the river for others to use. There are exemptions, however. For instance, Denver International Airport is allowed to use graywater from its sinks for sprinkler water on remote fields that are closed off to the public.

Republican lawmakers in the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee narrowly defeated the bill in a 5-4 vote in committee last year. Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, will reintroduce the bill [HB13-1044: CONCERNING THE AUTHORIZATION OF THE USE OF GRAYWATER], which he thinks stands a better chance of drawing bipartisan support this year.

Fischer, chairman of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee, explained that he believes House Speaker Mark Ferrandino will help send the bill to the full House. Water bills are usually first considered in the agriculture committee.

Fischer also has tweaked the bill slightly to win support from lawmakers, including addressing concerns about water rights, he said. The bill also rights, he said. The bill also would authorize the state Water Quality Control Commission to create rules for graywater use, a provision meant to address public health concerns…

“I think it’s very important to have as many tools available as possible to promote wide use of our water sources,” Fischer said.

Northern Water agrees and plans to endorse the bill in its role as a member of the Colorado Water Congress, a water advocacy group comprised of districts throughout the state, officials said…

Northern Water also plans to back a bill from Sen. Mary Hodge, D-Brighton, that will ensure water left in reservoirs is not considered abandoned and released.

“Water storage is critical to Colorado’s water needs going forward,” Hodge said in an email. “Clearly defining its use is vital.”

The bill would reverse parts of a state Supreme Court decision in Upper Yampa Water Conservation District v. Wolfe from 2011. The high court upheld a lower court’s decision that to keep a water right, a water district must show it has used the resource.

Northern Water General Manager Eric Wilkinson supports the bill because he has concerns that the court decision will prevent use of water in reservoirs that see occasional use but serve the important purpose of storing water for use during droughts.

More 2013 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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