Capitol Beat: Water Bills Advance as Legislature Reaches Half-Way Point

By Larry Morandi


By Hustvedt via Wikimedia Commons

As the Colorado General Assembly reaches the mid-point of its 2018 session, here’s a sample of water bills that have passed the house and are in the senate for consideration. They address aquatic nuisance species, use of reclaimed domestic wastewater, deficit irrigation and alternative transfer mechanisms, and groundwater storage and recovery. Final action must be taken by May 10, 2018, the date the legislature is scheduled to adjourn.

House Bill 18-1008—Aquatic Nuisance Species

(Passed House of Representatives, 44-20, February 27, 2018; assigned to Senate Finance Committee.)

HB 18-1008, the “Mussel-Free Colorado Act,” would require Colorado residents to purchase an Aquatic Nuisance Species Stamp for $25.00 when registering a motorboat or sailboat with the Division of Parks and Wildlife for use on Colorado waters beginning January 1, 2019. The non-resident fee is $50.00. The bill would also authorize the division to charge the owner of a motor vehicle, trailer or boat the costs of decontamination if suspected of containing aquatic nuisance species, and increase fines for violation of the act. Revenue from the fees and fines would be deposited in the division’s Aquatic Nuisance Species Fund for use in preventing, containing and eradicating aquatic nuisance species (the bill’s fiscal note estimates revenue generated in FY 2019 to be $2.26 million, with $2.39 million in FY 2020). For more information on this issue, see Water Education Colorado’s October 24, 2017 webinar presented in partnership with Colorado Water Congress, “Aquatic Nuisance Species: The Threat and Possible Solutions.”

House Bill 18-1093—Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater on Edible Crops

(Passed House of Representatives, 58-5, March 5, 2018)

HB 18-1093 would add irrigation of food crops as an allowable use of reclaimed domestic wastewater that meets water quality standards set by the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, including secondary treatment with filtration and disinfection, and compliance with E. Coli and turbidity standards.

House Bill 18-1151—Deficit Irrigation and ATMs

(Passed House of Representatives, 39-24, March 6, 2018)

For a detailed bill analysis, see Water Education Colorado’s March 1, 2018 blog, “Capitol Beat: Legislature Considers Alternatives to Buy and Dry.”

House Bill 18-1199—Aquifer Storage and Recovery

(Passed House of Representatives 49-14, March 6, 2018)

HB 18-1199 would authorize a person to apply to the Ground Water Commission for approval of an aquifer storage and recovery plan in a designated groundwater basin (where groundwater is not tributary to surface water). The bill would require the commission to adopt rules governing the process and requirements for considering and approving an aquifer storage and recovery plan.

IMG_0094Larry Morandi writes on environment and natural resources issues. His articles on drought, the Colorado River and public access to water have appeared in State Legislatures magazine. He recently retired from the National Conference of State Legislatures, a think tank based in Denver, where he was Director of State Policy Research. He previously worked for the Colorado Legislative Council as staff to water committees. Larry has lived in Colorado for the past 40 years, splitting his time between Denver and Summit County.


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