STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
|Time:||10:06 AM to 05:18 PM|
|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:|
|Call to order|
Land Use and Water Efficiency
Deadline to Prove Diligence
Irrigation Season Policy
USFDA Water Standard for Agriculture Water
Update on Agriculture Efficiency Review
FLEX Water Market Legislative Proposal
Proposed Legislation to Amend Definition
Enforcement of Ground Water Mgmnt Dist Regulations
USFDA Letter continued
10:07 AM -- Call to order
Senator Schwartz, Chair, called the meeting to order and invited announcements from the committee.
10:09 AM -- Land Use and Water Efficiency
Staff distributed a research memorandum prepared by the Office of Legislative Legal Services concerning state subdivision and cluster development laws (Attachment A).
Eric Heil, American Planning Association Colorado Chapter, explained that state law authorizes counties to allow cluster developments as an alternative to traditional 35 acre subdivisions. He identified Colorado counties that have adopted cluster development regulations and cluster development regulations in other western states. Mr. Heil identified nonregulatory measures to encourage denser development including conservation easements and he proposed legislation to encourage denser development including a streamlined permit processes and right-to-farm covenants.
Mr. Heil responded to questions from the committee about regulations to limit development in flood plains and other hazardous areas and policies to encourage development is nonhazardous areas, He also discussed measures to address water transfers from agricultural lands.
Terry Fankhauser Colorado Cattlemen's Association, discussed the importance of protecting the right of agricultural producers to subdivide their lands and its effect on property values. He discussed county cluster development regulations and potential policies to encourage denser development in rural areas that may also promote water efficiency. He also responded to questions from the committee about potential legislation to encourage denser development.
Greg Fischer, Denver Water, explained how denser development in urban areas saves water and compared water usage for single family and multiple family housing. He also discussed Denver Water measures to encourage denser development in its service area including incentives and other nonregulatory measures.
Dr. Andrew Seidl, Colorado State University, discussed the benefits of agricultural lands and policies to encourage denser development and preserve agricultural lands (Attachment B). He identified nonmarket benefits of agricultural lands, including wildlife habitat and viewsheds, and discussed policies to maximize these benefits. He discussed the benefits of higher density urban development including reduced infrastructure costs and improved air quality. He identified state policies that can help protect agricultural lands from development pressure including conservation easements, cluster development, and other policies. He responded to questions from the committee about rates of conversion of agricultural lands to residential development and the effect of Colorado's growing population on this rate.
Committee discussion followed about current laws concerning subdivisions and incentives to encourage denser development.
11:46 AM -- Water Education
Representative Fischer discussed the challenge of being a legislator who is asked to make decisions on complex water policy issues and the need for water education for legislators. He also discussed constitutional restrictions on gifts and how it restricts legislators from taking advantage of certain water education opportunities that would otherwise be provided to them without charge.
Jennifer Gilroy, Office of Legislative Legal Services, discussed constitutional restrictions on gifts to legislators, also known as Amendment 41 (Attachment C). She also discussed the May 26, 2010 decision of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission concerning attendance by Colorado legislators at a tour sponsored by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. She responded to questions from the committee about Amendment 41 and education opportunities that may comply with the law.
Nicole Seltzer, Executive Director, Colorado Foundation for Water Education, discussed the importance of water education to improve decision making by state policy makers (Attachment D). She explained how members of the Water Resources Review Committee have been allowed to participate in foundation activities. She urged the committee to encourage other legislators to participate in foundation activities and identified alternative funding mechanisms to help pay for water education for legislators.
Robert Sakata, Colorado Ag Water Alliance, discussed the importance of water education to improve decision making by state policy makers and described efforts to promote water education
Kate McIntire, Colorado Water Conservation Board, described water education opportunities provided by the board and discussed public education as part of the Colorado Water Plan development process (Attachment E). She also discussed funding sources for these education programs.
The committee recessed.
01:28 PM -- Deadline to Prove Diligence
Tim Buchanan, Buchanan and Sterling, P.C., discussed proposed legislation to extend the deadline to prove reasonable diligence in the development of conditional water rights from six to ten years (Attachment F). He also discussed prior changes to this statutory deadline and identified conditional water rights in Colorado rivers and streams. He also responded to questions from the committee about the effect of the change on Colorado's ability to develop its compact entitlement and the position of other water users to the proposed legislation to extend the deadline.
01:52 PM -- Irrigation Season Policy
Dick Wolfe, State Engineer, explained that he adopted an irrigation season policy in 2010 as required by Senate Bill 04-222 (Attachment G). This policy determines when the irrigation season starts and ends each year. He discussed the history of irrigation season regulation in Water Division 3 (Rio Grande River Basin) and the process he used to draft the current irrigation season policy. He also discussed the process for adjusting the irrigation season and the process for appealing decisions related to the policy. Mr. Wolfe responded to question from the committee regarding the basis for the irrigation policy and other elements of groundwater regulation.
David Robbins, General Counsel of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, explained Colorado water law concerning irrigation diversions and the purpose of the irrigation season policy that applies to both groundwater users and surface water users. He also discussed the history of groundwater regulations in the Rio Grande Basin.
Bill Paddock, Rio Grande Water Users Association, described the irrigation season policy and how it affects farmers and other water users in the Rio Grande Basin. He also discussed water diversions that are allowed outside of the irrigation season including for decreed augmentation.
Tim Lovato, representing himself, discussed the effect of the irrigation season on certain irrigators in the Saguache Creek basin. He also proposed changes to address the needs of certain irrigators who do not have storage to hold their water rights.
02:33 PM -- USFDA Water Standard for Agriculture Water
Robert T. Sakata, Colorado Ag Water Alliance, explained that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) adopted a draft standard for water applied to food crops. He discussed his concerns with the draft rule and explained that it was developed to address problems that affect leafy green vegetables and inappropriately applied to agricultural products, such as dry bulb onions, that do not have the same food safety problems. He identified unintended environmental impacts of the draft rule including the effect of treating irrigation water to meet the standard. He also urged the committee to submit a letter to the USFDA concerning the draft rule. Mr. Sakata
responded to questions from the committee about current measures taken by farmers to protect consumers and other issues. The Water Resources Review Committee submitted a letter the USFDA that incorporates Mr. Sakata's concerns (Attachment H).
02:49 PM -- Update on Agriculture Efficiency Review by Colorado Water Congress State Affairs Committee
Doug Kemper, Colorado Water Congress, discussed the Colorado Water Congress State Affairs Committee's review of proposed legislation concerning conditional water rights, FLEX markets, and groundwater management districts. He also discussed the need for water education for Colorado legislators and proposed a tour for legislators to meet with Colorado farmers and tour their farms.
03:03 PM -- FLEX Water Markets Legislative Proposal
P. Andrew Jones described growing demand for municipal and industrial (M&I) water supplies and pressure to permanently transfer agricultural water right to satisfy these demands (Attachment I). He explained that the Colorado Water Conservation Board sponsored a study of FLEX Markets and he urged the General Assembly to appropriate additional moneys to fund studies concerning alternative transfer methods (ATMs) for agricultural water rights and other measure to encourage ATMs. He also explained how FLEX water markets would operate and barriers to its implementation including legal cost to create such markets. He also proposed legislation to allow ditch-wide quantification of irrigation water rights, establish FLEX development zones, and other measures to encourage FLEX markets (Attachment J).
03:41 PM -- Proposed legislation to Definitions
Peter Nichols, Special Counsel, Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, proposed legislation to amend definitions related to the replacement of depletions related to irrigated agriculture.
03:50 PM -- Enforcement of Ground Water Management District Regulations
P. Andrew Jones described regulation of water use in designated basins (Attachment K). In eastern Colorado there are few rivers, but there are large ground water resources. This ground water is essentially nonrenewable and isolated from surface streams. Wells are the primary source of water used in this area. To administer these wells, state law allows the formation of designated ground water basins that are regulated according to a law that seeks to protect older wells from impacts caused by newer wells. Once a basin has been designated, electors in the basin may create ground water management districts. Each district is empowered to regulate the use, control, and conservation of ground waters within the district. District rules and regulations are subject to review by the Ground Water Commission. Thirteen ground water management districts have been created within six of Colorado's designated basins. Mr. Jones explained that the ground water management districts have limited authority
to enforce their rules. He proposed legislation to expand the enforcement authority of groundwater management districts. A similar bill was requested by the Water Resources Review Committee in 2012. However, it was not recommended to Legislative Council.
Kevin Rein, Deputy State Engineer, Colorado Ground Water Commission, explained that the commission does not oppose the proposed legislation.
04:04 PM -- USFDA Letter continued
Senator Schwartz announced that the Commissioner of Agriculture reviewed the draft committee letter concerning the proposed USDA food safety regulations for irrigated agriculture and does not object to it. Commissioner Salazar also requested that staff distribute a news release and comments on the proposed rule from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (Attachment L).
04:07 PM -- Watershed Protection
Richard Parachini, Water Quality Control Division, described the regulation of water quality by the division and discussed water quality impacts related to recent wildland fires including sedimentation and other impacts.
Michael Lester, State Forester, Colorado State Forest Service, discussed the benefits provided by forest including watersheds for public water supplies and recreational opportunities. He also discussed the health of Colorado's forests and the risk of catastrophic wildland fires related to recent insect outbreaks, aging forests, and droughts. He also identified the impacts from wildland fires including erosion and reduced water quality.
Kevin Stewart, Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, discussed the impacts related to recent floods and measure to mitigate these impacts including stream and weather monitoring, early warning systems, and other measures.
Travis Smith, San Luis Valley Irrigation District, distributed a handout that describes the activities of the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team (Attachment M) and discussed recent wildland fires in Colorado and the need for active forest management in watersheds. He also discussed obstacles to forest management on federal lands and wilderness areas and proposed that the State of Colorado take a more active role in
working with federal agencies on forest management and watershed protection measures. He responded to questions from the committee about his concept paper including the use of a basin roundtable process to initiate watershed management (Attachment N).
Committee discussion followed concerning the need to involve the US Forest Service in watershed protection programs and policies to encourage forest management on federal lands including stewardship contracts and good neighbor agreements.
The committee adjourned.