Studying ways to strengthen the state's anti-water speculation laws and developing new technologies to help improve water management in Colorado are two of the bills that a water committee want to introduce into the Colorado Legislature next year.

The Legislature's Water Resources Review Committee approved introducing four bills on Thursday, two of which are aimed at protecting and improving the state's water supply.

"We have an incredible opportunity to pilot and deploy new technologies that could revolutionize and improve how we manage and consume Colorado's most essential natural resource," said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, vice chairman of the 10-member committee, which also includes Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, and Sens. Kerry Donovan, D-Vail, and Don Coram, R-Montrose.

"The bills we passed ... will guarantee communities across the state have a voice in discussions about water management and will ensure that we are using all the tools we have available to protect our water from out-of-state special interests and manage our water appropriately," Roberts added.

The water speculation measure, which Donovan and Coram are to introduce in the Senate, calls on the Colorado Department of Natural Resources to convene a special work group to study the extent of water speculation in the state, and report back to the committee by 2021.

Initially, Donovan wanted to draft something that did more than just study the issue, but said laws surrounding water speculation are so complicated, she didn't have time to propose something more.

Still, other members of the committee agreed that water speculation is an issue even though the Colorado Constitution forbids it.

"This is not the original route that I wanted to take, but ... I couldn't quite learn water speculation law in time to write a bill," Donovan said.

"I understand your reasoning, but the fact is the problem is real," Coram told Donovan. "We are not speculating that there is speculation. It is happening, and it's happening far more than anyone thinks. It's probably affecting every corner of the state."

The new technology measure, which Donovan also is to help introduce, calls on the University of Colorado and the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University to conduct feasibility studies on such things as using sensors to monitor surface and groundwater use and quality, and using aerial and satellite technologies to help monitor water supplies.

The other two measures call on the Colorado Water Conservation Board to broaden its public comment rules for its water resources demand management program, and requiring the Colorado Division of Water Resources to hire more well inspectors.

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