HB14-1026 would…[create] a new water right…exempt from the state’s…anti-speculation doctrine — Chieftain #COleg


The Pueblo Chieftain editorial staff is sounding the alarm about HB14-1026 and the anti-speculation doctrine:

Politically powerful The convergence of money and political influence, both natural offsprings of rising city and suburban populations, threatens to destroy Colorado’s farm communities — including towns up and down the Lower Arkansas Valley.

We raise the alarm to the latest threat, which is House Bill 1026. The bill has passed the Colorado House and been sent to the Senate, where it is assigned to the Agriculture Committee with no hearing date set yet. HB1026 would radically change Colorado water law by creating a new water right — the so-called “flex use” — that would be exempt from the state’s time-honored anti-speculation doctrine.

Since statehood, the doctrine has served Colorado well. It requires applicants for a water right change to identify upfront the specific beneficial use to which they intend to put the water. This protects Colorado water rights holders and the public from speculators who otherwise might buy up water rights, perhaps even corner a piece of the market, thus raking in huge profits at the expense of the rest of us.

In the face of this imminent threat, you’d think the Colorado Legislature would reject HB1026 out of hand. But that hasn’t happened yet.

The reason, we believe, is that urban lawmakers, who make up most of the Legislature, simply are insufficiently knowledgeable about Colorado water law — and the importance it grants to specific beneficial uses.

In the past, the Colorado Water Congress might have been expected to blow the whistle on such a radical proposal as HB1026. But the organization has changed. It has been taken over by a committee, mainly of Denver-area water lawyers, who represent lucrative urban markets.

The metro area’s political and economic dominance pose a real threat to rural Colorado. There’s no other excuse for HB1026, regardless of how hard the well-heeled lobbyists and lawyers in Denver try to sell it.

More 2014 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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