As this angered some in Colorado, and the amount of water is proving to be the proverbial drop in the bucket, questions of the impact of the releases and were they worth it generate debate.
The drafters of House Bill 1151 say it is aimed at efficient water use and would increase communities’ resilience to drought and climate change, reduce the sale of agriculture water rights to meet increased demand in cities, and protect river flows.
Some water rights holders may be reluctant to pare back the amount of their right, even if they can’t use all the water to which their decree entitles them on paper.
The proposal is an attempt to carve out a spot for — and recognize the importance of — Colorado’s outdoor-recreation economy in the hierarchy of water uses, which prioritizes the oldest water rights, usually belonging to agriculture and cities.
Schwartz said that although it was an honor to hold the seat, she felt she couldn’t be as effective as she wanted in the position.
But neither the CWCB nor the Colorado Basin Roundtable has a policy that allows the public to have access to the inventories, even when public money is used to fund their creation.
The River District’s amendment is an attempt to revise the current proposed legislation, which has not found support from agricultural water users.
And although the agriculture industry represents 86% of the state’s water use, according to numbers provided by Water Education Colorado, Water ’22 does not include ways for agriculture to conserve water.
Rapidly dropping reservoir levels create a “green light” scenario for river management where conditions shift from a situation to be monitored to a problem that needs to be solved.
“The last 22 years has no 20th-century analogue,” said Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University.