Forest Service water proposal upsets Tipton
A proposed U.S. Forest Service directive poses a new threat to Colorado water rights, said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.
The proposed directive, which is entering the public-comment phase, would give the Forest Service new power over groundwater and establish “new bureaucratic hurdles to interfere with private water users’ ability to access their water,” Tipton said in a statement. “These backdoor attempts by the federal government to circumvent state law, take control of Western water, and trample private property rights are nefarious, coordinated and will not stand.”
The new directive is needed to “strengthen and support the Forest Service’s ability to manage the National Forest System to protect water resources and support healthy and resilient ecosystems,” Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell said in a statement.
The changes would improve the Forest Service’s ability to analyze and manage potential uses of forest land that could affect groundwater resources, the agency said.
Under the proposed directive, Forest Service managers would treat all surface and groundwater as hydraulically connected, unless it can be demonstrated otherwise.
It also would require that the Forest Service evaluate applications for state-issued water rights on adjacent lands to be studied for potential effects on Forest Service groundwater.
Regional foresters would be required to obtain water rights to groundwater and groundwater-dependent surface water needed by the Forest Service.
Tipton likened the directive to a proposed rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that Tipton said would allow that agency “to regulate virtually every form of surface water within the United States. These rules jeopardize every water user’s ability to freely access their water and maintain their livelihood.”
The proposed directive is available on the Federal Register and at http://www.fs.fed.us.