Colorado Water Congress Legislative Breakfast recap

Mountain pine beetles
Mountain pine beetles

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A state lawmaker took a chop at federal policy toward forests in a direct way Thursday at the opening session of the Colorado Water Congress.

“If the U.S. Forest Service were in housing, they would be considered a slumlord,” said state Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, explaining that sawmills in Montrose are short of timber while thousands of acres of beetle-killed trees are left standing.

His was one of several wake-up calls delivered at the legislative breakfast sponsored by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

Among the other topics: Rainwater harvesting: State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and Coram are backing HB1016 that attempts to update regulations for rainwater harvesting, now legal in certain cases in Colorado. “It’s an awareness issue,” Sonnenberg said, saying there is a downstream impact.

Phreatophytes: Sonnenberg and Coram also discussed how tamarisk, Russian olive and cottonwood trees sap water resources along streams. HB1006 would provide $5 million annually for five years for programs to remove these “water thieves,” as the lawmak­ers called them. “It goes beyond saving water. It’s a water quality issue,” Coram said.

Water Conservation: State Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, and state Rep. Ed Vigil, D-Fort Garland, talked about SB8, which would tie land-use planning more closely to water conservation. “We need to keep in mind that a lot of times, there’s not a marriage of water availability and land-use planning.”

More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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