U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- Fast-growing communities between Denver and
Colorado Springs would be able to form a huge water district under a
plan being considered by state lawmakers.
The district would help the communities raise the million of
dollars needed to tap water from other parts of the state.
Residents in unincorporated portions of Douglas, Arapahoe,
Jefferson and northern El Paso counties now largely depend on
groundwater supplies. Uniting under the proposed Front Range Water
Conservation District would allow them to raise and borrow money to
build dams, reservoirs and pipelines.
The bill, introduced by Sen. Jim Dyer, R-Littleton, would also
allow areas that are supplying water to the district to become
members as well. Usually water districts are limited to areas that
House Majority Leader Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, said that
provision would allow the water users of the Front Range to make sure
that their suppliers still had enough water to support their
``They may find a better way to use their water and have it all
paid for by the Front Range people,'' said King, who is sponsoring
the bill in the House.
The bill is intended to allow the new district to use recycled
water to supplement the water that it would still get from
groundwater aquifers. One possibility includes using the aquifers to
hold that water.
Lawmakers from the water-rich Western Slope are reviewing the
66-page plan (Senate Bill 232) closely.
Although a Western Slope community could join the district, Rep.
Matt Smith, R-Grand Junction, said he worries because mitigation
isn't required under the bill.
``It has the same cast of characters that was behind Referendum A,
so I'm suspicious,'' Smith said of the bill.
Referendum A, soundly defeated by voters last year, would have
authorized up to $2 billion in bonds to build, repair or expand
reservoirs. Critics called it a blank check for water developers
because the projects were not specified.
Lawmakers still haven't been able to come up with a solution to
the state's water needs this session.
Front Range Republicans and Democrats teamed up to defeat a bill
that would have required that water basins giving up water to be
given economic or environmental compensation -- often referred to as
Mitigation might include ensuring enough river flows to sustain
fish and supply downstream uses during a drought, or getting help
attracting new businesses to replace farms that lose irrigation
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