Protect water through compromise
When I was a child, the state of California was almost broken into two states over water. An aqueduct was built to divert the Feather River to Southern California. Not only were northern Californians left with an ecological disaster and water rationing, but they were taxed to help pay for the aqueduct.
This memory when serving as a commissioner was the reason I urged my brethren to not approve a contract to sell county water rights and instead change county policy, allowing the county to lease water rights but never sell.
The county might now consider filing an injunction against private water sales such as the 200 shares of Salvation Ditch water rights listed for $1.2 million by Commissioner Michael Owsley’s family. We are seeing the effects of oil speculation and can’t afford to allow water to reach speculative prices.
The Front Range’s need for water is desperate. I am concerned that their need and sheer numbers, especially if combined with growing speculation in water markets, might drive the state to try to “condemn for public purposes” water rights. In short, throwing money at water shortages won’t protect our rivers.
Rachel Richards’ work on RWAPA is critical and bully for her to get involved with what was an unpopular commissioner assignment. Patty’s chairmanship of COG, and Jack and Dorothea’s work with CCI are huge as well. Protecting our rivers will come down to compromises made through the relationships the commissioners develop ” not a new tax.