Whitewater bill amended again | VailDaily.com

Whitewater bill amended again

Tom Boyd

Senate Bill 62, a water rights bill proposed by Colorado Senator Jack Taylor, has undergone a second round of amendments after going before committee Feb. 17 (see more at “A fight for every drop” at vailtrail.com, Feb. 17 edition).Two major changes occurred to the bill: one allows for existing and previously filed water parks (like the ones in Vail) to be exempt from the new changes. The other removes language from the bill which makes Recreational In-Channel Diversions (RICDs) subordinate to other water rights.Opponents of the bill, led by water attorney Glenn Porzak (who represents Vail Resorts and Eagle River Water and Sanitation, among other groups), say they will still oppose the bill despite the changes.Porzak said there is strong opposition to portions of the bill which limit all future RICDs to a maximum of 350 cubic feet per second (cfs), and also to those elements which make the process of acquiring a RICD difficult.”What if we had to cut a deal 10, 15 years ago to put a cap on the amount of water we could use for snowmaking?” Porzak said. “We’d be ruing the day. So we’re going to continue to oppose it.”RICDs were made legal by Senate Bill 216, passed in 2001. Sen. Taylor has called that bill into question for language which doesn’t define what’s “reasonable” for a recreational experience.Senator Taylor, who represents District 8 (which includes Eagle County), has come under criticism for supporting a bill which may work against the interests of recreational-based economies.Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone came out in support of an earlier version of the bill, but Commissioners Arn Menconi and Peter Runyon wrote a letter to Taylor stating they were against it.The bill is expected to go in front of the state Senate in the coming weeks. If it passes through the Senate, Porzak said he thought it would be difficult to pass it through the state House of Representatives.Portions of the bill have been called “unconstitutional” by opponents, since a water right has never been limited by an exact amount of water in Colorado history (see “River Runes,” by Ken Neubecker ,on page 21).To read the entire Senate Bill 62 see the Colorado General Assembly website at leg.state.co.us. VT

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