article photo 1

Colorado Boaters, Your Water is at Risk

Posted: 02/28/2005
by Jason Robertson

Oppose Senate Bill 62 - Limiting Recreational Water Use

 

The Senate will be voting on SB 62 on Monday, February 28th!

 

We have a great chance to defeat this bill in the Senate, but we need YOU to call your Senator TODAY!

 

Please call your Senator and ask him/her to VOTE NO on SB 62!

 

For your Senator's direct phone number:  http://www.leg.state.co.us/Clics2005a/csl.nsf/directory?openframeset

 

The main Senate numbers at the Capitol are:

1-888-473-8136 (outside of Denver)

303-866-2316 (within Denver)

 

**Not sure who your Senator is?  Go to www.vote-smart.org and enter your 9 digit zip code under Find Your Representative!

 

Sample Phone Rap:

Hi, may I speak with Senator ______? 

 

[If you speak with the Senator or leave a message]

Hi Senator ______, my name is ______ and I am one of your constituents.  I am calling to ask you to oppose Senate Bill 62 which limits our recreational water use.

Water-based recreation and tourism contribute significantly to Colorado's economy and quality of life.  Unfortunately this bill is a one-size fits all approach which does not help Colorado, our rivers or our local economies.  With the increasing popularity of recreational activities such as kayaking, rafting and tubing, today recreational water rights are a crucial part of Colorado's water law.   Please vote NO on Senate Bill 62 and thank you for your time.

 

[If you speak with the Senator's staff]

Hi my name is ______ and I am a constituent of Senator ______.  I am calling to ask the Senator to oppose Senate Bill 62 which limits our recreational water use.

Water-based recreation and tourism contribute significantly to Colorado's economy and quality of life.  Unfortunately this bill is a one-size fits all approach which does not help Colorado, our rivers or our local economies.  With the increasing popularity of recreational activities such as kayaking, rafting and tubing, today recreational water rights are a crucial part of Colorado's water law.   Please advise the Senator to vote NO on Senate Bill 62 and thank you for your time.

 

For more information, please contact Amy Livingston, Colorado Environmental Coalition 303.534.7066 x1514 amy@cecenviro.org

 

MORE INFORMATION ON THE BILL:

Background:  Water-based recreation and tourism contribute significantly to Colorado's economy and quality of life.  In 2001, the General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 216 placing limits on Recreational In-Channel Diversions (RICDs), water rights that protect stream flows for on-stream recreational uses, such as kayaking.  Under the 2001 legislation, only cities, counties,  water districts and other types of local governments can hold RICD water rights, and the amount of water dedicated to these uses is restricted to "the minimum stream flow...for a reasonable recreation experience." With the increasing popularity of recreational activities such as kayaking, rafting and tubing, today RICD water rights are a very important component of Colorado's water law. 

 

What SB 62 changes and why you should continue to oppose this bill:  All future RICD applications will be impacted by this legislation which:

  • Eliminates the right under current law to appropriate an RICD for a "reasonable recreation experience," and instead allows only the minimum flow for kayaking, canoeing, inner tubing, boating and rafting.  This short-sited restriction prohibits local governments from using RICDs to create other legitimate, and economically important, recreational opportunities, such as fishing, wading or swimming.
  • Disallows RICD water rights greater than 350 cfs, a "one size fits all" approach that does not work for the diversity of rivers in the state. This unique use limitation, with no analogue in Colorado water law, discriminates against municipalities situated on larger rivers, where more water is necessary to create a recreation experience.
  • Creates a new definition of "control structure" for RICD water rights.  The definition requires local governments to build structures that are larger, potentially more damaging to the river and more expensive than is necessary.
  • The existing statute, Senate Bill 216, is currently before the Colorado Supreme Court, and it is likely that the Court will issue an opinion defining the exact scope of the limitations in the legislation in the next several months.  It is premature and wasteful of the General Assembly's time and resources to bring forward new legislation on the topic now.  

 

Economic Impacts:

For example, the City of Golden estimates that its recreational water park brings in $1.4 million to $2 million annually.  Local and state economies benefit from these recreational uses of water and the future outlook for governmental bodies, like the city of Golden to secure an adequate RICD is grim.  If SB 62 passes, the ability of local governments to acquire and use RICD water rights will be severely diminished, and it is unlikely that local leaders will invest public funds to create these recreational amenities if the necessary stream flows cannot be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Robertson
635 Joseph Cir
Golden, CO 80403-2349


Associated Projects

Gore Canyon Whitewater Park (CO)
AW is working with Grand County, CO to establish a new whitewater park on the Upper Colorado River. We have worked to identify the best location, and build support for the proposed project.