These are all of the Water and Agriculture bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1053: Reclaimed Water Use For Marijuana Cultivation

From Water Resources Review Committee. Mimics Senate Bill 18-038 in its water standards for reclaimed waste water and lays out uses for these standards, but adds marijuana cultivation and not industrial hemp.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

Creating the three different standards and allowable uses for reclaimed water which will allow for safe use of recycled water, a critical thing in the dry West. Marijuana cultivation is fine as a usage for the higher tier of reclaimed water.

Cons

There is no need to write these rules into laws, the Department of Health’s approach was working fine. Anything that goes into the body, like marijuana, should not be cultivated with reclaimed water, no matter how much treatment goes into the water.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1053

HB18-1069: Reclaimed Water Use for Toilet Flushing

Mimics Senate Bill 18-038 and HB 18-1053 in its water standards for reclaimed waste water and adds toilet and urinal flushing in multi-family residential and non-residential structures as allowable uses for reclaimed domestic wastewater.

SIGNED

Pros

Creating the three different standards and allowable uses for reclaimed water which will allow for safe use of recycled water, a critical thing in the dry West. Toilet water is fine as a usage for the higher tier of reclaimed water in a setting where it can be effectively sequestered from other water sources.

Cons

There is no need to write these rules into laws, the Department of Health’s approach was working fine. Some animals drink from toilets, so this would expose them to reclaimed water.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1069

HB18-1073: Water District Ability Contract Water Assets

Authorizes water districts to enter into contracts with each other for water and water capacity. Specifies that water conservancy districts can contract for municipal and industrial use.

SIGNED

Pros

Districts are already allowed to contract with public corporations, people, private corporations, water users’ associations, and mutual ditch companies. So it makes sense to add other water districts to the list, this allows the state to better optimize its water usage if one district needs helps from another. Domestic and commercial usage were also already allowed, again adding municipal and industrial usage rounds out the list.

Cons

Districts contracting with each other may run into future difficulties if one district runs drier than expected and is supposed to be supplying itself and another water district that was counting on it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1073

HB18-1093: Reclaimed Water Use for Edible Crops

Mimics Senate Bill 18-038, HB 18-1053, and HB18-1069 in its water standards for reclaimed waste water and adds edible crop irrigation (commercial use only) as an acceptable use.

SIGNED

Pros

Creating the three different standards and allowable uses for reclaimed water which will allow for safe use of recycled water, a critical thing in the dry West. Commercial usage crops (so things like animal feed) are fine as a usage for the higher tier of reclaimed water.

Cons

There is no need to write these rules into laws, the Department of Health’s approach was working fine. Animals should not be exposed to reclaimed water.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1093

HB18-1151: Colorado Water Conservation Board Approve Deficit Irrigation Pilot Projects

Expands the state’s water conservation board pilot project mandate from just agricultural water leasing or fallowing to also include deficit irrigation (irrigating less and getting a smaller crop) projects.

KILLED IN SENATE COMMITTEE

Pros

The big challenge with deficit irrigation is using the freed up water for other purposes to make up for the reduced crop yield. This bill allows the state’s pilot programs around water conservation to include these projects which should allow for deficit irrigation to make more financial sense and perhaps become more widely used, which would allow less water on crops and potentially more for routine city/community use.

Cons

There is no magic to deficit irrigation, you get less crops with less water. The more of a commodity water is, the less attractive it becomes to try to grow a full crop. This could lead to lower yields in the state which would result in higher prices on some items we usually purchase from in-state farms (like corn).

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1151

HB18-1199: Aquifer Storage-and-Recovery Plans

This builds on a bill from last year that authorized the recharge of non-tributary aquifers. This bill would authorize individuals to apply to the ground water commission for approval of an aquifer storage and recovery plan and requires the commission to create rules for the application process and requirements any application must meet.

SIGNED

Pros

Instead of waiting for rain or snow to replenish aquifers, we can store water back into them, utilizing water from heavy years to off-set drier years.

Cons

Tributary aquifers will just flow away, and it may be that above ground storage (in reservoirs) is better than below ground in other cases.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1199

HB18-1246: Modernization of the Nursery Act

Updates the state’s nursery act, last done in 2009. Adds a definition for noxious weeds (and requires all stock be free of them), removes an exception for inspections for nurseries that only sell stock grown in Colorado for sale in Colorado, and raises the $100 registration fee cap to $300.

SIGNED

Pros

Nursery stock can harbor plant pests and diseases. Stock with noxious weeds can overrun an area. Unregulated production and shipping of stock, even if it is grown in Colorado, therefore represents an unacceptable risk to the state’s agriculture, forestry, and horticultural interests and its general environment. This bill closes some loopholes in current law and updates the registration fee cap.

Cons

Stock grown in Colorado is more likely to be already free of pests and weeds we want to keep out of the state, which is why the law was written this way in the first place. More closely regulating this stock is an unnecessary burden to the state’s forestry and horticultural suppliers.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1246

SB18-019: Expanded Duration for Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority Revolving Loans

Removes the 20 year limitation on loans from the state water pollution control and drinking water revolving funds as federal law now allows for loans up to lesser of 30 years or projected usefulness of the project, as determined by state.

SIGNED

Pros

This bill, recommended by the Water Resources Review Committee, simply brings Colorado into federal law standards. Moving from 20 to 30 years as the maximum will not have a negative impact and may allow for new projects with a longer loan horizon.

Cons

Anytime you increase the length of time on a loan you increase the risk. The current system was working fine and does not need to be changed; we aren’t missing anything by not exactly matching federal laws.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-019

SB18-038: Reclaimed Water Use on Industrial Hemp

Creates standards for reclaimed waste water and lays out uses for these standards, adding industrial hemp as a new allowable use. These are based on rules from the Colorado Department of Public Health.

PASSED

Pros

Creating the three different standards and allowable uses for reclaimed water which will allow for safe use of recycled water, a critical thing in the dry West. Industrial hemp is a safer use of reclaimed water than marijuana cultivation, as that goes into the body.

Cons

There is no need to write these rules into laws, the Department of Health’s approach was working fine.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-038

SB18-041 Authorize Water Use Incidental Sand and Gravel Mines

Allows sand and gravel mine operators to use their required water replacement plan or substitute supply plan to also authorize use of water for things incidental to mining.

SIGNED

Pros

Allows an already existing plan to also address the other things that happen in this kind of mining, processing and washing materials, dust suppression, land reclamation, concrete production, and mitigation of mining impacts among others.

Cons

Mitigations for exposing groundwater the atmosphere are different from water usage in other aspects of mining and these other aspects deserve their own approval system separate from the main plan.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-041

SB18-134: Public Utilities Commission Deregulate Nonprofit Water Utilities

Deregulates non-profit water companies, with allowances for the state to resolve any complaints.

SIGNED

Pros

Water regulations are rightly very stringent but this makes it very difficult for non-profits to comply. We already know they aren’t in it for the money, so we can count on them to do the right thing.

Cons

Our water needs to be regulated. Resolving issues only after complaints is for televisions and fraud, not for something we all drink every day. Water companies that serve fewer than 1,500 customers receive simplified regulation treatment, but still are regulated. Being a non-profit doesn’t magically make a company immune to potentially serious errors. The Flint water crisis did not involve any for profit companies.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-134