Rep. Polis’ Bolts Ditch bill passes House, on to Senate | VailDaily.com

Rep. Polis’ Bolts Ditch bill passes House, on to Senate

MINTURN — When Congress designated Holy Cross a wilderness area in 1980, legislators inadvertently left Bolts Ditch off the list of existing water facilities.

A bill presented by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and passed by the House of Representatives would direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to authorize special use access of Bolts Ditch for the diversion of water and maintenance by the town of Minturn, allowing the town to fill Bolts Lake.

"The town of Minturn has actively pursued a common sense solution to fill Bolts Lake," said Matt Scherr, mayor of Minturn. "This bill will give our community the ability to use existing water rights and obtain clean water without harming the wilderness. We commend Rep. Jared Polis for his leadership in the House of Representatives on passing this practical bill, and are excited that it's one step closer to becoming law."

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the Bolts Ditch legislation to the senate.

'CONTROL YOUR WATER'

For Minturn, water is an important part of the town's economics and plans for future growth.

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"The lifeblood is essentially growth," Scherr said, "whether it's physical or economical. If you can't control your water, then you can't control your economics."

Both Scherr and Polis are confident the bill will pass through the Senate.

"This bill provides the town of Minturn access to clean and affordable drinking water while preserving the sanctity of the surrounding wilderness areas," Polis said. "We can all agree that water is a precious resource, and we must be deliberate about how we use it. The efforts by our residents, the conservation community, and water utilities displays how we can work together to resolve a long-term problem, and I look forward to swift passage by the Senate."

The bill comes as the Town Council is discussing water use and water tap fees for next year's budget.

Bolts Lake is located at the south end of Minturn off of U.S. Highway 24.

Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and rleonhart@vaildaily.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.