Location: SCR 357
Historical Consumptive Use Rules, House Bill 17-1289
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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10:33 AM -- Historical Consumptive Use Rules, House Bill 17-1289
Kevin Rein, State Engineer, Division of Water Resources, explained that Colorado water law allows water rights to be changed to another use provided such changes will not injure other water rights (Attachment D). He also discussed requirements under the law to ensure that other water rights are not harmed by such changes and identified factors that must be considered when determining how much water may be transferred to other uses. In part, such determinations are based on the history of water diversions, consumptive use, and return flows.
John Stulp, Governor’s Special Policy Advisor on Water, explained that pursuant to House Bill 17-1289, the Water Resources Review Committee must study during the 2017 interim the issue of whether the State Engineer should be given statutory authority to promulgate rules that would: a) adopt a nonbinding, streamlined methodology for determining factors and using other assumptions for calculating the historical consumptive use of a water right; b) provide guidance for all components of an historical consumptive use analysis for a change of water right using geographically specific considerations; and c) ensure that the calculation of the historical consumptive use complies with section 37-92-305 (3), C.R.S. The goal of the study is to investigate the feasibility, costs, and impacts of providing a nonbinding alternative to other methods of calculating historical consumptive use of a water right that may reduce transaction costs and the time necessary to obtain approval of loans and temporary and permanent changes of water rights while ensuring that no injury results from the approval. Mr. Stulp also identified the potential benefit of the historical consumptive use rules and how they may facilitate alternative transfer mechanisms for agricultural water rights.
Mr. Rein responded to questions from the committee about the lease fallowing tool that was developed in response to HB 13-1248. This tool was developed to simplify and streamline the evaluation of historic depletions (consumptive use) and return flows from irrigation and the review of lease-fallowing projects. It was developed by the Division of Water Resources and Colorado State University under the direction of the Lease Fallow Tool Technical Committee.
The committee recessed.