From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
A bill that would allow flood water to be stored regardless of the impact on water rights would not affect a proposal to build flood control structures on Fountain Creek.
The district is looking at building a dam or several detention ponds on Fountain Creek. It has no interest in getting blanket authority under [Senate Bill 15-212 (Storm Water Facilities Not Injure Water Rights)], which is moving slowly through the Legislature.
The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board has taken a neutral position on the legislation, and would not interrupt its study of flood control and water rights even if SB212 passes, said Larry Small, executive director.
“We have no intention to infringe on water rights,” Small said Tuesday. “We live and operate in this basin, and whatever we do has to be mutually beneficial.”
Small was speaking to a technical committee Tuesday studying how water rights can be protected while constructing flood control structures on Fountain Creek.
The Denver Urban Drainage District and other water interests are pushing SB212, which is scheduled to be heard today in the Senate agriculture committee.
Farmers in the Lower Arkansas Valley are interested because of its impact on junior water rights. Several testified last week against the bill. The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District offered amendments to the bill that would exempt Fountain Creek or the Arkansas River basin from the bill.
“Once again, it looks like the Legislature wants to put all the mitigation for these projects on the backs of farmers,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district.
It also was suggested that fire mitigation basins, which are needed in areas such as Colorado Springs to deal with the aftermath of large wildfires, be allowed but to postpone action on flood control basins.
The state of Kansas also wrote an April 10 letter to Mike King, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, and Dick Wolfe saying the [bill] could have a negative impact on the Arkansas River Compact. It said a proposed notification system is not sufficient to protect its interests.
Small said that it might not be possible to move the legislation this year, since it would face more of a challenge in the House and the Legislature is set to adjourn on May 6.
More 2015 Colorado legislation coverage here.