May 7, 2012
(Denver) – The House gave initial approval today to a bill to address groundwater issues in the South Platte River Basin, which provides the water for a majority of Coloradans and most of the state’s agriculture.
HB12-1278, sponsored by Rep. Randy Fischer (D-Fort Collins), authorizes a study of a Colorado paradox – too much water in a looming drought. There are numerous documented cases of the water table rising in some locations in the South Platte Basin, even though wells in the area are shut down to protect senior water rights by preventing overpumping.
“We’re concerned about withdrawing more water than the South Platte and its aquifers can sustain, yet crops are drowning and we have groundwater in some people’s basements,” Rep. Fischer said. “Obviously, our understanding of the system is incomplete. This bill will help us gain the knowledge to make informed decisions to conserve this incalculably valuable resource.”
State representatives from both sides of the aisle came to the microphone to urge prompt action on the bill, but it remains to be seen whether the House leadership will allow a final vote on the measure before Wednesday, the last day of the regular session.