Protect CO Water - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 07-02-2012   #1
 
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
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Protect CO Water

I just found out about this and haven't heard anything in the boating community...

Colorado ballot Initiatives 3 & 45 are currently in the signature collection process to be included on this November's ballot. Both concern clean water and public use of unappropriated water rights. Of particular interest to the boating community is this language in Initiative 3:

"The right of the public to the use of the water in a natural stream and to the lands of the banks of the streams within Colorado shall extend to the naturally wetted high water mark of the stream...The water of a natural stream and its streambed, and the naturally wetted land of the shores of the stream, shall not be subject to the laws of trespass as the water of natural streams and the banks of the stream courses are public highways for commerce and public use."

That's right! Public access to the high water line! The boating community needs to get out and work for this one...

More info here:
About Initiatives 3 & 45 | Protect Colorado Water

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Old 07-02-2012   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Thank you for sharing. I will look into this when I have a little more time, but it sounds very good.
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Old 07-02-2012   #3
 
Denver, Colorado
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Thanks for the info! I like concept. The only problem I have with it is that the "high water line" is very vague, and its not always 100% clear where it is. Is the high water line of the average annual peak, the 100 yr flood plain... you get the point. Also, many portages require boaters to walk up and over the high water line, ie Bailey at 4 falls. While its a start, I'd really like to see the ability to scout or portage hazardous location as a boater.
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Old 07-03-2012   #4
Roy
 
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Denver, Colorado
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The "high water mark" has precedent in Montana's Stream Access Law, which defines it like this:

Quote:
"Ordinary high-water mark" means the line that water impresses on land by covering it for sufficient periods to cause physical characteristics that distinguish the area below the line from the area above it. Characteristics of the area below the line include, when appropriate, but are not limited to deprivation of the soil of substantially all terrestrial vegetation and destruction of its agricultural vegetative value. A flood plain adjacent to surface waters is not considered to lie within the surface waters' high-water marks.
You'll note that's taken from bigskyfishing.com. It'll be important to get anglers on our side in order to win this--there's a lot more of them than there are of us.

Anybody know where to sign the petitions?
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Old 07-03-2012   #5
 
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Indian Hills, Colorado
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As a "water resources guy," my reaction to these initiatives are that they will make agricultural and municipal water supplies less reliable. As a result, more dams will be built.

The Initiatives represent a large-scale re-distribution of property rights, which I suppose some people support.

The text of the initiatives:
http://www.cowatercongress.org/Publi...ves/index.aspx
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Old 07-04-2012   #6
 
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
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Take Back Public's (superior) Rights In and Control of Water of Natural Streams

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Thanks for the info! I like concept. The only problem I have with it is that the "high water line" is very vague, and its not always 100% clear where it is. Is the high water line of the average annual peak, the 100 yr flood plain... you get the point. Also, many portages require boaters to walk up and over the high water line, ie Bailey at 4 falls. While its a start, I'd really like to see the ability to scout or portage hazardous location as a boater.
Here's more of the language in the amendment initiative at http://protectcoloradowater.org/wp-c...Final_text.pdf that gets your portage...

"Section 5 of article XVI of the constitution of the state of Colorado is amended to read:

.....
"(5) Access by the public ALONG, and on, the wetted natural perimeter of a stream..."

From the boaters and anglers' perspective, the language in initiative #3 whose Single Subject is "the public's (superior) interest in water of natural streams", subtitled "Colorado Public Trust Doctrine", especially, paragraph (5), is every boater's and angler's wet dream and could easily be nicknamed "The Touch Bottom" initiative because of its expansive access and use language.

Richard Hamilton of Fairplay and Phillip Doe of Littleton wrote initiatives' #3 and 45 "Diverted water", whose Single Subject is "public's control of water" and could easily be dubbed the "no irreparable harm" initiative. Appropriated (diverted water for beneficial use) water must be returned clean. No "irreparable harm". Environmentalists, especially the anti frackers, have similar dreams about 45 as it quite possibly would stop fracking dead in its tracks. And, because of the quantity of consumptive water used in fracking, which is an ever growing amount that contributes to the further de-watering, water temp raising and, ultimately, killing of and sucking dry the upper Colorado (above Kremmling) and Fraser Rivers, etc., is a good reason for boaters and anglers to support 45 from that perspective.

The challenge doesn't necessarily come from the substance of these initiatives. Rather, it comes with the procedure involved with them. 86000+ valid signatures need to be collected by the deadline of 3 pm on August 6, 2012 and submitted to the Secretary of State. Organization and funding are also part of the challenge. All this means that if you want to participate, you better get on the damn stick now for this go round. [email protected] or protectcoloradowater.org to get info.

Should this effort be less than successful, any of you latent wannabe activists out there may want to consider a coalition with environmentalists, etc., to organize, build a web site, blog and/or Facebook and fund, etc., another binding citizen petition for a 2014 initiative to build on these initiatives since the foundational framework language is already there and has already gotten the ruling by the Colorado Supremes that it indeed meets the Single Subject requirements. A little tweaking here, a little revision there and, violins!, you get your water access, use and environmental protection issues clarified and re-affirmed.

Along with the initiative avenue, our water use, access and environmental protection rights can also be clarified and re-affirmed (Colorado is about the only state that has a gray area in these issues) by binding legislative or judicial means. These frameworks are in place and ready to go. Just add organizing, funding, etc. Not a cakewalk, but doable.

I have more, just ask.

So who's up for a lap or two to clarify and re-affirm your rights to use, access and protect your natural streams so that All Win?
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Old 07-04-2012   #7
 
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
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*Ordinary* High Water Mark

Quote:
Originally Posted by deepsouthpaddler View Post
Thanks for the info! I like concept. The only problem I have with it is that the "high water line" is very vague, and its not always 100% clear where it is. Is the high water line of the average annual peak, the 100 yr flood plain... you get the point.
First, it's the "ordinary high water mark" (or, in this initiative's language, the "wetted perimeter") rather than the "high water mark". Big difference.

As for the definition of ohwm, there are several. If the initiative is successful, the definition would have to be challenged in court and, because it would be a state Constitutional amendment, the state would defend the language and, therefore, the term to clarify its legal definition. The definition used in a a previous post works just fine. In a lawsuit or legislative bill, the definition for ohwm may be included.
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Old 07-04-2012   #8
 
Arvada (Denver), Colorado
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Posts: 260
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanOrion View Post
As a "water resources guy," my reaction to these initiatives are that they will make agricultural and municipal water supplies less reliable. As a result, more dams will be built.

The Initiatives represent a large-scale re-distribution of property rights, which I suppose some people support.

The text of the initiatives:
Colorado Water Congress
Yes, they may make supplies less reliable, as stated by Hamilton and Doe in their Comments to questions by the SOS Title Review Board. That, however, may just be the point of the initiatives. The water appropriations have been reliable based on the control of water by the private interest via the Colorado Water Congress federation of private interest water users. With a successful #3, the public interest would be clarified and re-affirmed to be superior, opening the way to challenge the reliances made as a result of the system's control by the private user rather than the public owner of the water. Essentially, the "renter" of the property (water) has been in control of the diversions rather than the "owner" of the property. That's not the case with a real estate house property owner and renter. The house owner controls and has a superior interest in the property. Why should the water user have superior control over the water owner? This initiative 3 clarifies that and further clarifies that the state manage, protect and steward the public's (superior) interest and rights for the public trust in the water of natural streams.

Quite naturally, the appropriating users may not like the idea of losing the control of water that they've developed and enjoyed these past 150 years. Which interest should be recognized to have the dominant interest would be up to the voters.

Colorado is the only state that is based purely on the Appropriation, or, as originally called, the Colorado, Doctrine.

Fundamental issues and interests, indeed. Public/Private, Land/Water and Use/Own. About as basic as it gets.
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