Please contact your legislators in the next day or two regarding Section 17 of Senate Bill 122
The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has requested $150,000 of your tax payer dollars to do what they are calling an "objective" study of Recreational in-channel diversion (RICD) water rights. These are the water rights that are keeping water in our playparks.
Historically, the CWCB has been opposed to every single RICD claim. In essence, they are trying to use our money to get rid of our water rights.
As Access Director for Colorado Whitewater, I am urging the boating community to get behind the following talking points and IMMEDIATELY contact your legislators on the subject.
The CWCB has been a vigorous opponent of recreational in-channel diversion (RICD) water rights. They have opposed every RICD claim and cannot reasonably be expected to do the objective study called for in the legislation.
Last years RICD legislation (SB 06-37) limited the CWCBs authority over RICDs. This new proposal is directly at odds with the recent legislation, and undermines the comity and compromise struck in the last legislative session. This appropriation will spark another legislative battle.
The CWCB has no role in determining whether there are objectively determinable flows for different recreational uses. The reasonableness of flow rates for a RICD is a determination reserved for the water court under SB 37. Even under the earlier version of the RICD statute (SB01-216), the CWCB did not have authority over quantification of RICDs, and was strongly admonished by the Supreme Court in the Gunnison decision for overstepping its statutory authority on this point.
The clear direction from both the Gunnison decision and SB-37 is that RICDs must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. CWCBs effort to develop objective flows for types of recreational uses is directly counter to that instruction.
This new funding request is more of the continuing effort by the CWCB to spend public funds to develop another report that will be used to oppose the efforts of local governments to obtain RICDs.
The other relevant factors identified in SB-37 include the benefits of the RICD to a community. This will be different for every river and every community. Moreover, the CWCB has taken the position in court that the economic benefit of RICDs is irrelevant to securing a water right. (See CWCBs Motion in Limine in Steamboat RICD Trial.) Despite many water court rulings indicating this issue is extremely relevant, the CWCB has consistently declined to prepare any report when it could be tested in court. They should not be allowed to now spend taxpayer money on a study that will not be subject to rigorous scrutiny.
Others supporting our stance
Along with Colorado Whitewater the following organizations and local governments have signed on to these arguments against Section 17 of SB122:
Eagle River Water & Sanitation District
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Upper Eagle Water Authority
Western Resource Advocates
City of Steamboat Springs
Colorado Environmental Coalition
Colorado Conservation Voters
Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.
Contact information for your legislators can be found at this link: http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics/Cli...y?openframeset
Thanks for your help,