fBy Ken Baker - Board Consultant
The Colorado General Assembly for 2019 will soon draw to a close. In past legislative sessions, bills that did not receive CWC State Affairs Committee vote of approval may have been assigned to a committee for further discussion and review. In the present General Assembly such bills commonly were referred to a committee and approved, received Chamber vote, and eventually were sent to the Governor’s office.
The following are some bills of interest.
HB 19-1082: Ditch Bill - Concerning the Rights of a Water Right Easement Holder
This bill confirms the right of a ditch easement owner to clean and repair the ditch to a condition that the ditch will carry the water adjudicated to flow in the ditch. The bill was sponsored in response to a ditch owner’s complaint that a landowner whose land was subject to the easement tried to restrict the ditch owner from cleaning and repairing the ditch. The law now gives the ditch easement owner the right to repair, maintain, and improve the ditch with ditch lining and culvert.
Ditch owners in the Arkansas River Basin may find that the 1995 Amended Rules and Regulations ordered by the Water Court to comply with the 1948 Treaty Agreement between the State of Kansas and the State of Colorado may restrict ditch lining.
SB 19-186: Concerning the Expansion of Agricultural Chemical Management Plans to Protect Surface Water
Under current law, the commissioner of agriculture is responsible for the management of the use of agricultural chemicals to protect groundwater and the commissioner adopts rules establishing agricultural management plans for this purpose. This bill expands the scope of commissioner’s agricultural management plans to include the protection of state waters, which include surface and subsurface water. There should be an amendment in the Finance Committee. It would require consultation with a pesticide advisory committee.
HB 19-1279: Fire Fighters Foam Control Act- Prohibits Class B Foam
This bill has a lot of implications for water and waste water. There are some things in the language that need to be addressed. An amendment would include adding helicopter landing pads and other kinds of firefighting foam testing not currently in the bill.
Concerning the grant of immunity from liability for a landowner relative to the landowner’s failure to warn against a known dangerous condition on landowner’s land when the landowner has granted a person access for use of the land for recreational purposes without charging the person a fee. This bill was postponed indefinitely.
Concerning the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s authority to use water that a water right owner voluntarily loans to the Board for instream flow purposes. This bill was killed in committee.
Concerning a clarification of the authority of the Colorado Water Conservation Board to augment stream flows with acquired water rights that have been previously decreed for augmentation. This bill was killed in committee.
Concerning sports betting and, in connection therewith, submitting to the registered electors of the state of Colorado a ballot measure authorizing the collection of a tax on the net proceeds of sports betting through licensed casinos and directing the revenues generated through collection of the sports betting tax to specified public purposes, including the state water plan through creation of the water plan implementation cash fund. Since this is a referred measure, it needs only a simple majority in the House and the Senate, and then goes to the Secretary of State who places it as a voter ballot issue in the November election. If approved by the voters, it becomes law without the Governor’s signature.
Waters of the United States
Click the button below to read comments by Doug Kemper, Executive Director of the Colorado Water Congress. Mr. Kemper's letter concerns the proposed rule on the revised definition of "Waters of the United States".