Location: SCR 352
House Bill 17-1289 Concerning Historical Consumptive Use
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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11:08 AM -- House Bill 17-1289 Concerning Historical Consumptive Use
Marilen Reimer, Executive Director, American Council of Engineering Companies of Colorado, introduced herself to the committee and provided a background of the council. House Bill 17-1289 requires that the committee study the issue of whether the State Engineer in the Department of Natural Resources should be given statutory authority to adopt rules concerning: a methodology for determining factors and using other assumptions for calculating the historical consumptive use of a water right; and guidance for the components of an historical consumptive use analysis for a change of water right, using geographically specific considerations.
Janet Williams, Leonard Rice Engineers, Inc., introduced herself to the committee and distributed her presentation (Attachment D) and an outline of her presentation (Attachment E). She provided an overview of historical consumptive use (HCU) analyses, which includes an estimate of the amount, location, and timing of water historically consumed by a crop; diversion records and their impact on the stream; the efficiency of the water system and the operation; the number of acres irrigated; the type of crops grown; water balance; and return flow analysis. These factors are combined into an estimated monthly stream depletion pattern, which is used as a basis for terms and conditions of future use of the water right. Once the site-specific variables are determined, the computation of HCU is determined using tools that are publically available. Ms. Williams discussed her concern that rule-making for an individual ditch system would have the same scope and controversy as any other water right change of use for such a system. She also explained that many water users would have to participate in this process at a significant cost in order to protect their own water rights.
Attachment D.pdf Attachment E.pdf
Daniel Niemela, BBA, representing Centennial Water and Sanitation District, introduced himself to the committee and distributed a memorandum regarding his presentation to the committee (Attachment F). His presentation can be found in Attachment D. He provided a background of the HI-Model, which is the foundation for the lease fallow tool developed for the Lower Arkansas River Basin (LARB). Mr. Niemela discussed how the lease fallow tool is limited outside of the Lower Arkansas River Basin. Specifically, he discussed the conservative nature of the tool in the LARB and the variability of the water use in other river basins. He emphasized that the lease fallow tool is a unique tool for the LARB, and developing a similar tool in other basins would be costly and time consuming.
Joe Frank, Director, Lower South Platte Conservation District, introduced himself to the committee and discussed the recent rule-making process in the South Platte Basin and the difficulty of developing a lease fallow tool for the South Platte Basin. He discussed successful alternate transfer methods in the South Platte. He stated that there are no water users in the South Platte who are requesting that a lease fallow tool be implemented in the basin, and he emphasized that storage in the South Platte is essential.
Mr. Niemela responded to questions from the committee concerning the HI-Model and the lease fallow tool as it is used in the LARB. Ms. Williams responded to questions regarding the engineering data used in change of use cases, specifically in water court. Mr. Frank also responded to questions from the committee concerning conservative HCU analyses used in change of use cases and the incentives of alternative transfer methods.
Ms. Williams and Mr. Frank discussed the viability of using a lease fallow tool in other water divisions in determining HCU in response to questions from the committee. Mr. Frank responded to further questions regarding the South Platte River Basin and how baseline engineering data would impact water uses in the basin. Mr. Niemela responded to questions regarding the lease fallow tool in other basins and stated that the tool is publically available and the legislature should wait to see if that tool is used more regularly. He discussed how a rule-making process through the State Engineer would complicate HCU analyses for water users. Committee discussion ensued.
The committee recessed.