Here’s an analysis of the legislation from Elaine Nolen writing for the University of Denver Water Law Review. Here’s an excerpt:
House Bill 17-1233 (“HB 1233”), titled Protect Water Historical Consumptive Use Analysis, accomplishes three objectives: (1) to expand application of a preexisting law to water Divisions 1, 2, and 3; (2) to clarify that participation in a government-sponsored program includes water conservation pilot programs; and (3) to limit state agencies that can approve a water conservation program to only those with explicit statutory jurisdiction over water conservation or water rights. Democratic House Representative Jeni Arndt of District 53, located in water Division 1, and Republican Senator Larry Crowder of District 35, located in water Division 2, introduced HB 1233 in the House on March 7, 2017. The House approved the bill on March 24, the Senate approved an amended version on April 17, and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB 1233 on May 3.
A historical consumptive use analysis is part of a proceeding to change a water right. A water right owner may only change that right up to the amount of water historically consumed for a beneficial use. Prior to HB 1233, Colorado law provided that in Water Divisions 4, 5, and 6, historical consumptive use analyses were not to consider reduction in water usage resulting from participation in a government-sponsored water conservation program. In the initial draft of HB 1233, the sponsors sought to apply this rule to all seven of Colorado’s water divisions. However, at the Senate second reading, the Senate passed Senator Crowder’s proposed amendment to remove water Division 7 of southwestern Colorado from the bill. Senator Crowder explained that feedback from the representative from that water division led him to propose the amendment.