Public input sought on water plan

DENVER — A measure to ensure that the public will have input to a proposed statewide water plan cleared a Senate committee Thursday.

Though highly rewritten from its original version, SB115 introduced by two Western Slope lawmakers also would ensure that whatever plan is developed is nothing more than policy and not a state rule that would have the force of law.

“Our effort here is to support the work that has been done out in the basins ... but that the Legislature is key in this whole thing,” said Sen. Ellen Roberts, D-Durango, who introduced the bill with Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.

“What this bill will do is define how in development of that policy the General Assembly will participate,” added Schwartz. “The objective of the bill is to make sure this is an open conversation.”

Ever since Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order last year calling for a statewide water plan to be developed by the end of 2014, several people on the Western Slope and other parts of the state outside of the more populated South Platte River Basin that serves Denver and northeast Colorado have been wary of where it might lead.

John Stulp, the governor’s water policy adviser and director of the state’s Interbasin Compact Committee, told the committee the measure will help clarify to everyone that the process will be open and thorough.

“We’re basing this on the work of a lot of people over the last eight to nine years,” he said.


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