DENVER, CO – The House Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee today passed two bills that direct $80 million in economic relief funds to protect Colorado’s water supply, protect the state’s watersheds, and prevent wildfires.
“The demands on our state’s water resources are reaching a critical level. That’s why we are taking urgent action to invest economic relief funds in the essential projects that will help water districts manage groundwater use and protect our agricultural community,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “Conserving and protecting Colorado’s water is critical for our economic recovery and the long-term resiliency and strength of our state. The legislation we advanced today will rightly direct $80 million towards interstate compact compliance, protecting our watersheds, and preventing and reducing the risk of wildfires.”
“Access to clean and safe water is endangered every time wildfires threaten our communities and the landscapes that surround us,” said Sen. Donovan. “We must make sure our communities have the tools they need to mitigate wildfires and protect watersheds. These funds will better prepare us for the work that comes with protecting our water through preventative and restorative efforts.”
“Increasingly devastating wildfires are impacting our watersheds, access to drinking water, and the water our agriculture producers need to survive,” said Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont. “The investments we’re making will reduce the risk of wildfire, mitigate the impacts they have on our water supply, and ensure healthy watersheds to protect this essential resource. Our economy and way of life depends on our watersheds and our access to water. The legislation we advanced today will help protect our most precious resource.”
Protecting Colorado’s Water: SB22-028, sponsored by Representatives Dylan Roberts and Marc Catlin and Senators Cleave Simpson and Jerry Sonnenberg, directs $60 million in economic relief funds to manage groundwater use and ensure the state meets its commitments under interstate water compacts.
While Colorado is in compliance with all water compacts, several river and conservation districts have urgent needs in order to meet their obligations and ensure sustainable levels of groundwater remain available. This proposal uses one-time federal economic relief funds to help Colorado’s river and conservation districts meet their obligations. In the event that the funds are not spent in the next two years, any remaining funds will be directed to the Colorado Water Plan.
The bill passed the committee 11-0.
Preventing Wildfires and Conserving Colorado’s Watersheds: HB22-1379, sponsored by Representatives Karen McCormick and Marc Catlin and Senators Kerry Donovan and Cleave Simpson, would invest $20 million to protect Colorado’s watersheds and reduce the risk of wildfires.
HB22-1379 directs $20 million in federal pandemic economic relief funds to prevent wildfires and conserve Colorado’s watersheds through mitigation, watershed restoration and flood mitigation grants. The bill includes:
$3 million for projects that will help communities address the urgent need to reduce wildfire risks by supporting implementation of risk mitigation treatments that focus on promoting watershed resilience;
$2 million to continue the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program within the Department of Natural Resources which supports the Department’s wildfire workforce development partnerships;
$10 million to the Colorado water conservation board construction fund for post-fire restoration needs and advance a watershed scale approach to building wildfire ready watersheds; and
$5 million to help local governments and other entities apply for federal “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” money and other federally available money for water projects.
The bill passed the committee 11-0.