Location: HCR 0107
BILL SUMMARY for HB17-1289
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK, & NATURAL RESOURCES
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03:28 PM -- HB 17-1289
The committee came back to order. Representatives Hansen and Valdez, co-prime sponsors, presented House Bill 17-1289, concerning a requirement that the state engineer promulgate rules that establish an optional streamlined approach to calculate the historical consumptive use of a water right. Under current law, if the owner of a water right brings an action to change the amount of water the owner may use, the amount of water that can be changed is limited to the historical consumptive use of the water under the right. The bill directs the State Engineer in the Division of Water Resources (DWR) to adopt rules taking into account local conditions that an applicant can use to calculate the historical consumptive use of a water right. The use of the methodology, approach, or local factors developed by the State Engineer is voluntary, and the resulting calculation of historical consumptive use carries no presumptive effect in the determination by the State Engineer, water referee, or water judge.
03:33 PM -- Kevin Rein, Deputy State Engineer, DWR, testified in support of the bill and distributed a handout that explains the concept of change of use and points out key components of the bill (Attachment C). Mr. Rein explained how historical consumptive use and a return flow within a water diversion are calculated. Mr. Rein explained how the office of the State Engineer would develop rules that established the streamlined approach to calculate historical consumptive use. Mr. Rein explained that a technical platform with objective data will be combined with methodology to calculate the efficiency ranges. Mr. Rein responded to questions from the committee regarding the methodology of calculating historical consumptive use and how that calculation would vary among the basins throughout the state. Mr. Rein explained that using the streamlined methodology that is used in the Lower Arkansas Basin would be different in other basins.
Mr. Rein continued to respond to questions from the committee regarding the lease fallowing tool currently being used in the Arkansas River Basin, and how DWR would implement the lease fallowing tool in the South Platte and the Rio Grande River Basins in order to begin collecting data for using the new methodology being used to calculate historical consumptive use. Mr. Rein explained that using the methodology should be collaborative among all water users.
03:54 PM -- Dr. John Stulp, Water Policy Advisor for the Governor, testified in support of the bill and discussed alternative transfer methods and how they can effect water users' historical consumptive use. Dr. Stulp discussed the pilot program in the Arkansas River Basin and how the lease fallowing tool in place has impacted the historical consumptive use calculations for water users.
04:02 PM -- Jay Winner, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, testified in support of the bill and discussed the lease fallowing tool being used in the Arkansas River Basin and the benefits of the program for farmers. Mr. Winner responded to questions from the committee regarding the lease fallowing tool.
04:09 PM -- Joan Green, Water Rights Association of the South Platte, testified in opposition to the bill and discussed how the program would affect water users on the South Platte. Ms. Green responded to questions from the committee.
04:20 PM -- Kelli Kelty, the Nature Conservancy, testified in support of the bill.
04:21 PM -- Phillip Chavez, Diamond A. Farms, testified in support of the bill. Mr. Chavez responded to questions from the committee.
The committee recessed.
The committee came back to order. Representative Arndt stated that the bill would be laid over until Monday, April 17, 2017, for action only.