New Laws Address Drought, Fund Water Plan

DENVER, CO– Governor Polis today signed two bills into law to make historic investments in the state’s water plan and to create the Office of Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience. 

“Colorado’s precious water resources are dwindling and require our utmost attention and care,” said Speaker Alec Garnett, D-Denver, sponsor of HB21-1260. “The historic investment we delivered today helps us face the increasingly devastating droughts that threaten our water supply. By funding critical projects and being careful and responsible stewards of these water resources, we can build the water infrastructure of the future, create jobs and help our agricultural producers, outdoor recreation operators and others continue to prosper.” 

HB21-1260, also sponsored by Representative Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, provides $20 million to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to help implement the Colorado Water Plan and address water supply issues. The bill helps ensure that Colorado can meet its future water needs, which is critical for maintaining our state as a competitive place to work, play, and live. 

“The agriculture industry in Colorado faces an enormous threat from increasingly severe droughts and other extreme climate events that imperil our water supply,” said Rep. McLachlan, D-Durango, sponsor of HB21-1242. “By creating the Office of Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience, we’re helping our farmers and ranchers prepare for and mitigate the harm of these devastating consequences of climate change. Agricultural producers in Colorado are resilient, resourceful and have been at the forefront of this issue for decades. After today, the state will finally have an office dedicated to supporting them in this way.”

HB21-1242 creates the Agricultural Drought and Climate Resilience Office in the Department of Agriculture to help the industry respond to and mitigate the impacts of climate change and increasingly severe droughts. Frequent droughts are placing increasing pressure on Colorado’s already strained water supply and ecosystems that drive the agriculture industry. The office would provide voluntary technical assistance and incentives to help producers prepare for, mitigate, adapt to, and respond to hazardous events related to drought or our changing climate. 

Governor Polis also signed SB21-189, a bill to fund certain Colorado water conservation board projects. 

###