Kayak park bill dies in House vote
DENVER ” A controversial water bill that would have limited the ability of towns to create whitewater parks was narrowly defeated Tuesday on the floor of the Colorado House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 62, sponsored by Sen. Jack Taylor, the Steamboat Springs Republican who also represents Eagle County, had attempted, among other things, to limit the amount of water that could be claimed for recreation use.
“This was a not-so thinly-veiled disguise of killing those kind of water rights,” said attorney Glenn Porzak, one of the architects of recreational water rights.
The bill had sought to limit the volume of water that could be claimed for recreational users to no more than 350 cubic-feet per-second.
Bill supporters said recreational water rights could have been used to prevent future upstream diversion of water and also to prevent diversion of water from the wet Western Slope to the dry Front Range.
“Those holding recreational water rights aren’t bound by the same water rules governing other water users, Taylor said in a previous interview.
“It begins to change the procedures of how the water system has worked. That’s the fear ” changing water rights as we know them today,” he said. “Someone at the state line could get a (recreational right) and affect everybody above them.”
Recreational water rights, allowed by the Colorado Supreme Court just two years ago are designed to boost river flows for kayaking and other water sports.
Porzak said he’s not completely confident the issue of recreational water rights has been settled. “They may try to resurrect it as a late bill,” he said. “It’s not completely over.”
Staff Writer Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or firstname.lastname@example.org