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Old 03-05-2005   #21
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 65
Fact Sheet on SB62

Here is an updated fact sheet that I just received from the Colorado Environmental Coalition

thanks everyone, keep up the work of spreading the word and making contact with your local officials.

Oppose Senate Bill 62 – Limiting Recreational Water Use

Water-based recreation and tourism contribute significantly to Colorado’s economy and quality of life. In 2001 the General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 216 placing limits on Recreational In-Channel Diversions (RICDs), water rights that protect stream flows for on-stream recreational uses such as kayaking. Under the 2001 legislation, only cities, counties, water districts and other types of local governments can hold RICD water rights, and the amount of water dedicated to these uses is restricted to “the minimum stream flow . . . for a reasonable recreation experience." With the increasing popularity of recreational activities such as kayaking, rafting and tubing, today RICD water rights are a very important component of Colorado’s water law.

The existing statute is currently before the Colorado Supreme Court, and it is likely that the Court will issue an opinion defining the exact scope of the limitations in the legislation in the next several months. Yet some in the General Assembly propose to further restrict RICDs and the corresponding ability of local governmental bodies to improve their economies and quality of life through the development of water-based recreation. It is premature and wasteful of the General Assembly’s time and resources to bring forward new legislation on the topic now.

Governmental bodies with decrees or applications for RICD water rights that will be impacted by Senate Bill 62: Pueblo, Golden, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District (Vail), Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Chaffee County (Buena Vista and Salida), Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (Gunnison), Silverthorne and Longmont. All future RICD applications would also be impacted by the legislation.

Economic Impacts: Local and state economies benefit from these recreational uses of water. For example, the City of Golden estimates that its recreational water park brings in $1.4 million to $2 million annually. If SB 62 passes, the ability of local governments to acquire and use RICD water rights will be severely diminished, and it is unlikely that local leaders will invest public funds to create these recreational amenities if the necessary stream flows cannot be protected.

What SB 62 changes:
• Eliminates the right under current law to appropriate an RICD for a “reasonable recreation experience,” and instead allows only the minimum flow for kayaking, canoeing, inner tubing, boating and rafting. This short-sited restriction prohibits local governments from using RICDs to create other legitimate, and economically important, recreational opportunities, such as fishing, wading or swimming.
• Disallows RICD water rights greater than 350 cfs, a “one size fits all” approach that does not work for the diversity of rivers in the state. This unique use limitation, with no analogue in Colorado water law, discriminates against municipalities situated on larger rivers, where more water is necessary to create a recreation experience.
• Creates a new definition of “control structure” for RICD water rights. The definition, which applies both to new RICD rights and retroactively to existing rights, requires local governments to build structures that are larger and more expensive than is necessary.
• Requires the CWCB and water court to evaluate the RICD based on the impact to future upstream water use. Every water right, whether for an RICD or a more traditional consumptive use, impacts future upstream water development, but under the proposed legislation, RICDs would be the only “second class” water rights required to make way for future uses.

Edwards, CO
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Old 03-05-2005   #22
kayaker's Avatar
in a van down by the river, California
Paddling Since: 1974
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 126
SB62 - called Allards office

Being ever the optimist and a true believer in democracy and the importance of the voice of the people, I phoned Senator Wayne Allards office I asked to speak to the senator.
After they laughed at me for asking to speak to my representative, I attempted to make a comment on SB62 by identifying myself as a constituent. They hung up after my first five words, "please vote no on senate ..." CLICK!

If this is representative democracy, then my name is King Kong.

Senator Allard - by the corporations, for the corporations, a real sell-out.

keep calling! we gotta represent !
Thanks to the Colorado Environmental Coalition, keep up the good work.

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Old 03-08-2005   #23
Master of Chaos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 73
Here is the letter I sent to most every Colorado newspaper:

I've already got soft confirms from Steamboat Springs, Vail, Glenwood Springs and Gunnison papers and am hoping that others follow suit.

My main problem with SB-62, beyond several others, is the flow issue of 350 cfs, which as we all know is not enough to maintain the river recreation and tourist economy that all of us depend on.

I've alluded to trans-basin diversions being the main reason why they wish to limit these RICD's to such low flows. Let's face it, TBD's are going to occur with all the expected growth in the Front Range. The water is on the West Slope and Senate Bill 62 is just watching out for those future development interests. 350 cfs is not enough to satisfy our recreation and tourism interests and this must be defeated.

Also, the House will know which committee this Bill will be heard in, within 72 hours, I've been told. At that time we should really then focus our efforts to those sway those Representatives who sit on that specific committee.

Here is the letter:

Senate Bill 62 – Water, tourism and our recreation future.

Water, is the most defining character as to how we as a culture, living here in Colorado will prosper into the future. Our economy, lifestyle and growth are determined by how much water is available for us to use for consumptive and non-consumptive needs. Today, our tourist-based economy is now driving Colorado’s future and as the debate over recreational water rights continues to escalate, we must realize how important these rights are for our local economies and the future of Colorado.

River based recreation, is a cornerstone to this tourism success and making sure that we have reasonable flows, left in our rivers for kayaking, rafting, tubing and fishing will provide for our future inheritance. SB-62’s inability to recognize this with its “one size fits all” flow regime of 350 cfs, is doing us no favors. Every river, stream and creek where Recreational In-Channel Diversions (RICD) flows are needed should be viewed independently from one another. These flows should be a percentage of historic flow and provide for a reasonable recreation experience that is realistic and can support a viable recreation and tourist-based economy. For example, the City of Steamboat Springs is applying for 1700 cfs at peak flow on the Yampa River; this is approximately 40% of the historic hydrographic flow and is certainly not greedy. It is realistic that 1700 cfs will help sustain a healthy river which our local economy depends on through river related recreation and our local tourism opportunities.

Senator Taylor fears that future upstream growth and water storage will be affected by these RICD flows. Here in the Yampa Valley, and other river basins in the State, upstream municipalities, existing agricultural and industrial interests have more than adequate water rights and potential for water exchanges. So the issue in trying to limit an RICD to 350 cfs at a maximum must be one of storage, but storage for whom? Could the actual intent of SB-62 be the protection of unlimited trans-basin diversions for Front Range development? Those interests consistently challenge RICD applications in Colorado District and Supreme Court, and it’s those interests who will benefit the most by putting a one-size fits all cap on RICD flows.

It’s hard for me not to, so I will question the allegiance here. The goal in limiting RICD flows seem to provide evidence that Senator Taylor is not looking after our West Slope or tourism related interests. It would seem to me that he’s bowing down to pressure from his Water Buffalo friends and Front Range developers.

Over the next 25 years, Colorado’s population is projected to grow by at least 2.8 million people. The majority of these folks will be living in the Front Range where current water supplies will not adequately satisfy such thirst. So, where will the water come from? The Yampa River, Colorado River, Gunnison River and other Western Slope rivers, streams and creeks are going to supply this water. Let’s face it, additional storage is necessary and water will be needed to fill these reservoirs and provide for trans-basin diversions. Certain West Slope rivers will be depleted, and your home river, including mine, the Yampa River, may cease to be the rivers we know and love. But, let’s first and foremost allow for water to remain in our rivers to support the tourism and river-based recreation necessary for our future.

Let’s embrace river-based recreation as a key to the success of our local economies and provide for this with realistic RICD flows. SB 62 is not planning for this and must be defeated.

Kent Vertrees
Steamboat Springs, CO
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Old 03-08-2005   #24
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 89
Nice posts by Alpine Kayak and kentv. Thanks.

I want to mention that of all the water currently diverted from the West Slope to the East Slope, 15-20% is used for urban use. If the Front Range doubles in the next 25 years, that means they need an additional 15-20% of water. Some or much of that will come from East Slope farmers. Hence little additional water will need to be diverted.

A massive amount of water is already diverted--mainly for agricultural use. There just isn't much more water than can be diverted. And it would be expensive to divert. Dams are politically very difficult to build any more. It's much cheaper to just buy water that is already on the East Slope.

Over the last 10 years, conservation efforts caused Denver water use per person to drop 30%. That leaves room for some growth.

The wrinkle in this is the upcoming water crisis in Castle Rock/Highlands Ranch area, between Denver & Co Springs. This is fast growing, all with big lawns and many golf courses. (I wouldn't care if their water bills go way up.) Not only is it fast growing, but most of their water is well water that is drying up fast. They will have to get river water soon. The big questions are how soon is the well water gone and from where to get the river water. Denver owns the upper South Platte and won't sell. They'll probably get it from the Ark, just as Colorado Spings does. They'll probably buy the water rights from farmers, which will further strain the economy in that part and cause an uproar. The thing that concerns me is that the water may be diverted from the Ark above Buena Vista, so it will reduce most of the Ark. I hope BV and Salida have applied for lots of recreational water. But, should we ask these guys to spend $100 million to pump water from Pueblo so we can float the Ark? Ah, Salida and BV will probably sell their water rights for less than that, which would be a bummer. The main thing is to force those guys to conserve. Make them pay big bucks for the water so they use it sparingly.

This Castle Rock/Highlands Ranch water issue may be the biggest fall out if SB 62 passes. It may make it easier for them to take Ark river water since it will reduce Salida & BV's rights. This is probably on the order of 100-200 cfs.

The political battle will be whether Castle Rock/Highlands Ranch should get its water from marginally profitable farmers on the East Slope or from more dams and diversions on the West Slope. My guess is the water will come from the farmers.

Note that if SB 62 fails, that means Castle Rock/Highlands Ranch will have to pay Salida & BV for the water as well as the farmers. This may make buying existing East Slop water more expensive than building a new dam and diversion from the West Slope. So, SB 62 failing may increase the likelihood of new diversion from the West Slope.

Damn this is complicated. But, we know we want SB 62 to fail.

Overall, I don't think this is a Front Range/West Slope issue. I think it is just agricultural interests wanting to make their rights dominant.
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Old 03-09-2005   #25
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 89
Found some reliable statistics:

The state study at http://cwcb.state.co.us/SWSI/Demand_...et_7-19-04.pdf, estimates that the additional 2.8 million people in Colroado in year 2030 will need an additional 630,000 acre feet of water. The state agriculture currently uses 11,400,000 acre feet of water. So, all those damn additional people will have to steal 5.5% of agricultural water to satisfy their demands.

And it will probably be less than that for the Front Range. The 630,000 figure is statewide--West Slope and East Slope. That estimate probably doesn't include how effective the conservation methods have been and how they will reach other people as municipal water prices continue to go through the roof.

Of the 11,4000,000 state wide agricultural use, 7,000,000 of that is West Slope use. Current West Slope diversion is about 550,000 acre feet.

A real interesting map of the West Slope-East Slope diversion is at http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/ad...-wwa_map_3.pdf It shows how many diversion projects there already are. There aren't any more easy diversions available.
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Old 03-09-2005   #26
Evergreen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 316
So what is the time line here... what are the next steps for this bill and what do we need to be doing?

Has the media been involved in this... do we even want them in this?

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Old 03-09-2005   #27
Glenwood, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8
Economic Impact is the Key

The key to this fight is demonstrating to the old guard water users (ranching/agricultural interests) that whitewater parks can provide a positive economic impact to communities across the state.

I helped get the Vail park built back in 2001 and I testified against SB62 at the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing a few weeks ago (it passed there on party lines 4-3). In response to my testimony and that of Golden, Steamboat and Breck, Senator Taylor committed that his bill would not affect those parks that have already filed for water rights.

But that's not enough!

SB62 subodinates the water rights of all FUTURE whitewater parks. I know places like Glenwood, Palisade, Buena Vista, Avon and other communities are working on proposed parks. This bill would limit their water rights to 350 CFS and give all upstream water users a senior right.

As a community of percieved dirtbags, we need to prove the economic impact of whitewater parks. Here are some important numbers:

Golden's park generates approx. $2 million in incremental visitor spending

Vail's park generates between $422,000 and $1.1 M in economic stimulus to the community

Breck's park generates between $167,000 and $427,000 economic stimulus to the community

The Teva Mtn Games, which is centered around a rodeo in the whitewater park, generated approx. $1.1 million in incremental visitor spending in 2004.

The point is we need to prove that whitewater parks are an effective and inexpensive (most cost less than a playground) economic engine for CO communities. Don't let SB 62 threaten the future of all future parks.

I can verify all these numbers with 3rd party research. I have electronic copies I can share.

Call you Senator, write your paper--let people know you oppose SB 62.

Ian Anderson
Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau

P.S. The town of Avon is seriously considering a whitewater park at Bob's Bridge. Could be sweet!
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Old 03-10-2005   #28
Master of Chaos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 73
What other rivers have RICD potential?

Thinking strategy here.....

Once the House committee is set for the next reading of this Bill, we will have the names of those House members sitting on that specific committee whom we can call. Also, your local House rep will be the one you should call or write to because if this Bill passes the committee it will then go to the House floor for final approval.

Ian is correct in that the most important point in this is that RICD flows will sustain the river recreation and tourist economy that these diversions (Parks) were made for. It's all about the dollar here and convincing your Rep that without adequate flows, these Parks, will not do us any good.

Here are the existing RICD's and those who have already applied.

Ft. Collins - Poudre
Littleton - South Platte
Golden - Clear Creek
Breckenridge - Blue River
Aspen -
Vail - Gore Creek
Gunnison - Gunnison
Pueblo - Ark
Longmont -
Steamboat Springs - Yampa

Any others I've missed?

Beyond Glenwood, Palisade, Buena Vista and Avon as potentials for future parks requiring RICD's, what other rivers, towns or locations could have parks in the State that would require a RICD?

Here are some potential others:

Town - River
Salida - Ark
Pagosa Springs - San Juan
Ft. Collins - Poudre (upping their existing RICD)
Uncompagre - Ridgeway
? - Rio Grande
Durango - Animas

Any others?

Only counties, cities, water districts, sanitation districts and water conservation districts can apply for RICD's, but developing a list to inventory the potential is needed.
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Old 03-10-2005   #29
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Snowmass, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 429
How about:

Denver - South Platte River....Confluence Park
Boulder - Boulder Creek

I know that these are not the most popular (or sanitary) places to play (in a kayak), but a lot of people use these parks for recreation. Really, with as old as these parks are, I'm surprised they do not already have a RICD. Also, doesn't Lyons have a park?
"A witty saying proves nothing."
- Voltaire (1694-1778)
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Old 03-10-2005   #30
Lyons, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 256
Lyons does have a Whitewater Park and the water that flows through Lyons is a huge supplier for Northern Colorado. We have ButtonRock Reservoir above us and the Big Thompson Project (CBT) dumps into our river just downstream of the Black Bear Hole. CBT and the St Vrain River are the main supply for both Boulder Reservoir and Longmont. There are also many large ditches that come off of the St Vrain as well. Quite honestly I am a bit afraid for a drastic reduction in flows in the St Vrain over the next 10 years as pipelines replace ditches and rivers and the water rights move from Ag users to municipalities. Unfortunately, Lyons does not have the resources for filing for RICD at this time. Any idea how much it would cost?

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