River district opposes Referendum A | AspenTimes.com

River district opposes Referendum A

Aspen Times Staff Report

A proposal on the November ballot for an issuance of $2 billion in bonds for water storage projects will be opposed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

The district’s board of directors voted to oppose the bonding initiative because its constituents cannot be assured of protection from negative water supply and economic impacts of transmountain water diversions, according to a press release issued by the organization.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District is a public agency whose mission is to protect and preserve the water resources of the Colorado River basin. Fifteen West Slope counties within the Colorado River basin make up the district.

Referendum A, as the initiative will be known on the ballot, would create $2 billion worth of bonding authority, for a total of $4 billion in state indebtedness, to build water supply projects. The beneficiaries of the projects would pay off the bonds.

The Legislature passed a bill last session that placed the question on the ballot. It is supported by Gov. Bill Owens.

If approved, the referendum would give the governor sole power to select what project gets funded from a list compiled by the Denver-based Colorado Water Conservation Board.

West Slope interests have opposed the initiative on grounds that it threatens to divert water to the Front Range without adequate compensation for the West Slope. The Colorado River district joins West Slope legislators and the Club 20 Natural Resources Committee in their opposition to the referendum.

“The board expressed its strong support for increased water storage and its desire to take a leadership role in the creation of additional water development,” said the CRWCD press release. “However, the board found that Referendum A was neither an appropriate nor responsible vehicle to accomplish this task.”

The district board did pass a motion to participate in a statewide water supply investigation to identify reasonable and prudent water storage options for providing drought protection and water for Colorado’s future needs.

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