Don Shawcroft Testifies in Support of HB1159


On Thursday, February 4th Don Shawcroft, Vice-President of the Colorado Farm Bureau, testified before the Joint Ag Committee on HB 1159.  The bill requires a water judge to consider leases and changes to the use of water rights.  Applicants must meet requirements with the affected water conservation district(s).

Read Shawcroft’s testimony below for the Farm Bureau’s stance on the bill.

Mr. Chairman and members of the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee, good afternoon.

I am Don Shawcroft, Vice-President of the Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado’s largest agricultural organization.  On behalf of Colorado Farm Bureau and our 23,000 member families, I am here to describe our conditional support of HB 1159.  That condition IS that L.002 be adopted and that the amended bill continue to be the intent of this legislation.

Colorado Agriculture stands united in insisting that a water right is a property right.  Agriculture has a very vested interest in the water of Colorado as we divert over 80% of the water that is available for use in Colorado.  As an organization, we have members who have been personally impacted by the past transfers of water from a water resources division.

The Colorado Farm Bureau Board of Directors has met and considered HB 1159 and how our policy speaks to the concepts of this bill.  In November of 2009 delegates from county farm bureaus across this state, re-affirmed our policy which states, regarding Water Project Funding and Criteria:  “We recognize that each river basin is different and support water rights owners in each basin being able to negotiate their own water project agreements provided that all affected water rights owners are included in the negotiations and compensated for all negative impacts to their water rights.  This could include, but not be limited to an equitable amount of compensatory storage within the same basin of origin.”  Also, in regard to Water Diversions: “We recommend that when diversions occur to meet municipal and industrial needs, that they continue to be required to mitigate all damages that occur to (holders of) junior and senior water rights.”

The current statutes establishing water conservancy and conservation districts require that individuals serving as directors “are residents of the counties in which the water district is situated, all of whom shall be the owners of real property in said district and knowledgeable in water matters.”  We believe this provision is vital and must be protected for HB 1159 to be effective.

Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, Colorado Farm Bureau supports HB 1159 as amended by L.002.  Thank you for hearing our comments and I would gladly entertain any questions from committee members.

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