STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
|Time:||08:11 AM to 08:54 AM|
|This Meeting was called to order by|
|This Report was prepared by|
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
|Bills Addressed: ||Action Taken:|
|First Meeting to Plan Interim Activities||Plan Interim Activities|
08:12 AM -- First Meeting to Plan Interim Activities
Senator Isgar, Chair, called the meeting to order and described past activities of the Water Resources Review Committee. During the 2009 interim, the committee is authorized to meet up to eight times and to take up to two field trips (Attachment A). He explained that the Colorado Foundation for Water Education is conducting its annual tour June 18 and 19 in the Rio Grande Basin. He proposed that the committee join this tour as it has for the past three years. The Colorado Water Congress summer convention will be held August 21 and 22 in Steamboat Springs. He proposed that the committee attend the convention and hold a meeting on Wednesday, August 19 in the afternoon. He also proposed that the committee tour the Animas-La Plata Project near Durango and the proposed Long Hollow water storage project in the La Plata River Basin. He also proposed that the committee hold a meeting in Durango as part of this tour.
08:33 AM -- Proposed Agenda Issues
Senator Schwartz explained that prior to the 2009 legislative session, she convened a group of stakeholders to discuss the exemption in Colorado law for subdivisions of 35 acres and larger from state land use and planning laws (Attachment B). She requested that the Water Resources Review Committee consider the effect of this exemption on water supply planning and management.
Representative Curry, Vice-chair explained that Division of Water Resources experienced significant budget cuts due to its reliance on General Fund moneys for its operations. These cuts have prevented the division from hiring the necessary staff to conduct its core activities including the administration of water rights. She proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee consider alternative funding sources for the division. She also explained that the General Assembly transferred large amounts of money from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) Construction Fund and the Severance Tax Trust Fund to help balance the budget. The transferred moneys would have been used for needed water development and planning projects. Representative Curry proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee consider alternatives to replenish the moneys transferred from the CWCB Construction Fund and the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund.
Doug Kemper, Director of the Colorado Water Congress, explained that his organization is very concerned about the loss of $107 million from the CWCB Construction Fund and the effect of the hiring freeze on the Division of Water Resources and its ability to properly administer water rights in the state. He proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee consider alternatives for replenishing the CWCB Construction Fund and funding alternatives for the Division of Water Resources including fee increases (Attachment C). He also proposed that the committee develop a plan to provide reliable and affordable funding to address water infrastructure needs identified by the Statewide Water Supply Initiative.
Harris Sherman, Executive Director of Colorado Department of Natural Resources, proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee receive an update on the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) process, water basin needs assessment studies, the Colorado River Water Availability Study, energy development and water needs, and the CWCB Climate Change Study.
Jennifer Gimbel, CWCB Director, proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee receive briefings on water conservation and drought planning, models for agricultural water leases to municipalities, and transbasin diversions and basin of origin protections. She also recommended that the committee consider alternative funding sources for the Division of Water Resources and programs that receive Tier 2 moneys from the Operational Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund. State law allocates moneys from the Operational Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund to two different groups of programs, commonly referred to as Tier 1 and Tier 2 programs. The Tier 2 moneys are primarily used for grants, loans, research, and construction programs that are administered by the Department of Natural Resources. Tier 2 programs include the Water Supply Reserve Account, Forest Health Grants, Soil Conservation District Matching Grants, and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Ms. Gimbel also proposed that the committee consider alternatives to replenish the moneys transferred from the CWCB Construction Fund and the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund.
Representative Curry proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee meet with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to discuss water infrastructure funding needs and alternatives to replenish the moneys transferred from the CWCB Construction Fund and the Perpetual Base Account of the Severance Tax Trust Fund.
Ms. Gimbel proposed that the Water Resources Review Committee attend the IBCC meeting in Crested Butte on Monday, July 20 and meet with the CWCB on the morning of Tuesday, July 21. Committee discussion followed about this recommendation. Senator Isgar and Representative Curry proposed that the Water Resource Review Committee hold a meeting on Monday July 20 in the evening, after the IBCC meeting.
The meeting adjourned. Information about the Water Resources Review Committee meetings and tours will be available at http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/committee.htm