U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- Thousands of Colorado farmers, municipalities and
others with water rights will soon receive invoices for new fees
expected to raise more than $3.5 million for the state over the next
The Colorado Division of Water Resources has mailed more than
10,000 invoices for 35,000 water rights across the state, said Ken
Knox, chief deputy state engineer for the water resources division.
The Legislature approved the fees last year as an alternative to
laying off water commissioners, who oversee and administer water
rights, Knox said.
The two-year program should bring in an estimated $1.8 million
It will be the first time in Colorado the state is imposing a fee
on water rights. Knox said his office is preparing to handle
telephone calls with complaints and questions in early February.
``People are justifiably concerned. It's an imposition of a new
fee,'' Knox said. ``They recognize the need for it, but it is
difficult. And some are just very, very angry.''
The fees are separated by direct flow rights and storage rights.
Only direct water rights involving flow of 1 cubic foot per second or
more will be assessed a fee. Agricultural users will be assessed a
fee of $10 per year, while all other users, including municipalities,
will have to pay $250.
Fees will also be applied to people with storage rights greater
than 100 acre feet. People using their storage rights for
agricultural purposes will have to pay $25, while all others will get
a bill for $100.
The division conducted 15 meetings last fall to tell people about
the fees. The Legislature would have to pass the measure again to
continue the program after 2005.
Knox said his office has established a toll-free number to handle
the calls from people.
``We expect to spend many late evenings here the first couple
weeks of February because we need to respond to those people's
concerns very timely,'' Knox said. ``That's only fair.''
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