jack Taylor's Letter to the editor SB 62 - Mountain Buzz

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Old 03-05-2005   #1
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jack Taylor's Letter to the editor SB 62

In the Valley Journal( roaring fork valley paper) yesterday there was a letter to the editor talking about his bill. I would like to rebut his arguements but do not have enough info. I am assuming that this was sent to lots/all of the papers in his district( North Western Colorado). Check your local paper. It is in valil paper.

Here is the text of the letter:

Heaven knows, there have been enough wars over water in Colorado, so there's no need to start another one - between recreational and agricultural users in my own state Senate district.

That's why I'm carrying a proposal in the Legislature to strike a balance among those and other uses of our most precious resource.

My goal in sponsoring Senate Bill 62, which passed a key committee last week with bipartisan support, is to respect the historic rights recognized under water laws.

That means looking out for all the users of our reservoirs, rivers and streams while also making sure none of their uses is jeopardized by future uses downstream, including in lower Colorado River Basin states.

By assuring that everyone using Colorado's water plays by the same rules, my bill doesn't tilt against any community or any particular kind of water use, including whitewater sports.

Some recent fears I've heard to the contrary are way off base. I know of no one in the General Assembly who understands better than I do how vital year-round recreation in the High Country is.

I've made sure the bill's limitations on higher-capacity recreational in-channel diversion rights - intended to protect water flow for sports like kayaking and canoeing - specifically exempt communities that have filed applications for such rights before Feb. 17.

And SB 62 has no effect whatsoever on recreational water rights held by ski areas to make snow.

This bill is an attempt to define some reasonable parameters for recreational diversions before it's too late. If we don't act, those diversions could threaten not only rural needs for water but also the needs of the cities that are trying to support recreational water uses.

The Colorado Water Congress, the Colorado River District, the Upper Arkansas Conservancy District, the Upper Yampa Conservancy District and the Routt County commissioners, to name just a few, are among the entities that have endorsed my bill.

We're all in this together. For the sake of future generations in our communities, we must work together to avoid gridlock on our waterways - and an end-run on a system of water laws that have served Colorado for a very long time

How can we address these points with out seeming self serving and bringing the idea that it is one more way to keep the water on the western slope and not being sucked over the divide for use by the booming front range.


friend of the fork, knife, and spoon
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Old 03-06-2005   #2
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Dillon, Colorado
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It was also in the Summit Daily.
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Old 03-07-2005   #3
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That letter to the editor sounds like typical Repblican mis-information and spin doctoring. They are trying to come off as reasonable guys while hiding the fact that the details are really supporting a specific agenda.

Focus on the details. Fight the mis-information. Key points I would mention are:
1) He himself states that the purpose of SB 62 is "to define some reasonable parameters for recreational diversions before it's too late". Yet, his perspective on reasonable is from an agricultural perspective. His aim is to give agricultural use a higher priority. Do we really want that? Recreational use doesn't loose the water.
2) While he says he wants to "protect water flow for kayaking", mention that most kayakers consider 350 cfs is insufficient. Just compare how many people are at water parks when they are at 350 cfs and 600 cfs. The reason there is so much interest in WW parks on the Colorado is the flow. If 350 is sufficient for a water park, we wouldn't need WW parks on the Colorado. Also, rafting on the Ark totally dries up when the water flow drops below 700 cfs.
3) He claims "bipartisan support", yet the committee vote was 4-3, with all 3 republicans voting for it. This really isn't a partisan republican/democrat issue. It's more agricultural/recreational.
4) Contrary to his claim, the bill does tilt the state water laws against recreation. It limits recreation while not limiting agricultural use. For example, farmers are still free to irrigate low value hay by flooding a field, which is a collosal waste. Farmers are free to run the water in sand ditches where they loose 60% to seepage.

Also, I want to remind you that 85% of the water diverted over the divide is for agricultural use. And that West Slope farmers remove 4 times the water from the river than east slope diversion does. So front range urban use is really nothing. The farmers, both east slope and west slope are the ones that are using the water--and the ones fighting to keep using it.
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Old 03-08-2005   #4
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I just have to reply to Stiff. First, Don't just label it "Republican misinformation and spin doctoring." In case you haven't realized, ALL politicians do that crap. I am firmly against SB62, and I'm a repub and I think this guy's a F**in idiot.
Secondly; yes, western slope ag takes most of the water. That's because we grow FOOD with it. It doesn't matter what percentage of CO's water ag requires, because FOOD is more important that LAWNS. At least make a valid argument.

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Old 03-08-2005   #5
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OK, sorry for bringing in my opinion that republicans spin more than democrats. Perhaps it is just Bush & Delay that tweak my chain. Glad to hear you think the SB 62 sponsor is an idiot.

At the risk of losing focus on SB 62, here's my reply:

As for lawns vs. food, I tend to agree with you but consider this:
1) Agriculture in this state uses 100-200x the amount of water than Front Range lawns use. Yup, 100x! The ratio may be even greater. Let me know if you want me to back that up.
2) Lawns are pretty important to me. Have pitty on me living in the damn city. I have about 50 feet x 75 feet of lawn and that is big in my neighborhood. It's important to me to have some space for my kids to play. You want me to pave the lawn over or just everyone to live in apartments? I'm willing to pay for my lawn. And lawns are not cheap here.
3) I'm willing to pay higher food prices. If a few farmers need incredibly cheap water to stay in business, let them go out of business so others can use the water more effectively. Yea, it's mean, but that's the real world. If I don't produce in my job, I get fired. It's not like we have a big food shortage in this country. Quite the opposite.
4) You use water and you have lawns on the West Slope. You probably have more lawns per person that we do in Denver and you probably use more water per person than we do in Denver. You may not have the low flush toilets and low flow showers that Denver makes us have, not to mention all the other water restrictions--including the water police that check to make sure you don't over-water your lawn.

I agree that we shouldn't waste water. Is my having a lawn more wasteful than you having a lawn?

It's a free country. You can move where ever you want. Just because you moved to the West Slope 4 years ago, does that give you the right to use more water then me? That's a tough question. But, what if I use half the water than you do?

Let's make the question more interesting: What if you use 1000x the water that I do for your ranch and make $20K a year doing it while jobs in Denver pay $50K?

There is no clear right and wrong. That is why there are water rights and laws, and political haggling to try to change them with SB 62!
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Old 03-08-2005   #6
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Does anyone know what (if any) efficiency standards are in place for agriculture in our state? Could part of this be resolved by efficient irragation pracitices?
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Old 03-09-2005   #7
Lyons, Colorado
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Arguing about agricultural efficiency is really a waste of time. Cities are buying up farmers water rights all over the Front Range. I have spoken with NCWCD in regards to this. Ten years ago 70-80% of their water was used for ag, now 70-80% of their water is used for urban dwellers. Ag water will soon be a thing of the past as farmers sell off their rights. In many cases they can make more money by selling oof their rights than farming. A bit more concerning is that cities like their water transferred by pipeline instead of ditches and rivers for cleanliness and efficiency, just look at the Big Thompson Water Project System (CBT) and expect more of this in years to come.
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Old 03-09-2005   #8
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I think your statistics are wrong. The Big Thompsen Water Project isn't Denver water yet it transfers 4x the amount of water from Grand Reservoir and the Colorado River than Denver takes from the West Slope. The water is for the Greeley agriculture area.

Yea, it is a big shame that they transfer it by pipe rather than through rivers.
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