These are all of the water and agriculture bills proposed in the 2019 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, arguments for, and arguments against are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. The long description is hidden by design, you can click on it to expand it if you want to read more detail about 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.

Prime sponsors are given after each bill, with Senate sponsors in () and House sponsors in []. They are color-coded by party.

Some bills will have text highlighted in pink or highlighted in orange. Pink highlights mean House amendments to the original bill; orange mean Senate amendments. The bill will say under the header if it has been amended.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium, Minor, and Technical. 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!). Technical bills are here to round out the list. They are non-substantive changes.

HB19-1015 Recreation of the Colorado Water Institute (Ginal) [Arndt]

*This bill has been technically amended*

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

The Colorado Water Institute, founded in 1981, sunsetted in 2017. It has continued to operate from other funding but has hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of projects frozen and more in jeopardy. This bill recreates the Institute, run through Colorado State University, as it previously existed.

The Colorado Water Institute, founded in 1981, sunsetted in 2017. It has continued to operate from other funding but has hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of projects frozen and more in jeopardy. This bill recreates the Institute, run through Colorado State University, as it previously existed. The Institute is charged with developing, implementing, and coordinating water research programs with other institutions of higher learning and transferring the results to potential users, as well as acting as a state-wide clearinghouse for water resources and data.

Arguments For:

This Institute is a critical tool in our ability to ensure a future where Colorado and the rest of the west has enough water to meet our needs, particularly if droughts become more common. It is a well-established research and development center that due to its history of over 35 years in operation, is well-integrated into the water research and development community. Hoping it can stay afloat with federal funds and grant money is not an acceptable solution for the state, nor is the nearly $300,000 in frozen projects and roughly the same in future projects threatened.

Arguments Against:

Since the Institute is really a national center, despite focusing more on Colorado than other states, we should continue to have the federal government and grant money fund it fully even if that means there is a chance the Institute would close down or individual projects are threatened.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1015

HB19-1029 Republican River Water Conservation District (Crowder) [Arndt]

From the Water Resources Review Committee

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Changes definition of Republican River water conservation district to include areas where groundwater pumping depletes flow of the river. Requires board members of district to be state residents and resident of a county in the district.

Long Description: N/A

Arguments For:

This is just common sense, the point of a water conservation district is to include all areas where the water we are trying to conserve (in this case the Republican River) could be affected.

Arguments Against:

Groundwater that may affect the flow of the river should fall outside the purview of a conservation district. Putting inside the district brings in too many people who are simply using water out of the ground, not pulling it out of a river or its tributaries.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1029

HB19-1050 Encourage Use of Xeriscape in Common Areas [Titone] (Priola, Winter)

AMENDED: Significant

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Prevents common interest communities from banning use of xeriscape or drought-tolerant landscapes in common elements (already prohibited from banning in member-owned property) that a unit owner is responsible for and extends water conservation requirements currently applicable only to certain public entities that supply water at retail to property management and other special districts that manage parkland and open space.

Long Description: n/a

Arugments For:

Water is a precious resource in Colorado and we must do all that we can to conserve it. Parkland and open space is a prime target for water conservation. Common interest communities will still have the ability to manage themselves when it comes to common areas that unit owners are not responsible for.

Arguments Against:

Common interest communities should be free to set their own preferences for their community common areas, even if a unit member is responsible for it. It is still a common area. If that means they don’t want xeriscaping or draught-tolerant plants than that’s what they want. Parklands also should not be restricted in this manner, Coloradans love the outdoors and our beautiful parks. Variety in our parks is wonderful and we should keep the ability for parks to ban xeriscaping and draught-resistant plants if we want a lush, green oasis.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1050

HB19-1071 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Water Quality Control (Zenzinger) [McKean] TECHNICAL BILL

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Eliminates duplicative requirement for state board of health to approve a municipality’s entrance into a joint operating agreement with an industrial enterprise for sewage work.

Long Description: n/a

HB19-1082 Water Rights Easements (Coram) [Catlin, D. Valdez]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Clarifies that water rights easement holders may maintain, repair, and improve their easement as long as the work is not expressly inconsistent with the terms of the easement.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Just a common sense clarification in case there was any confusion. If you have a water rights easement then you can maintain, repair, and improve it. That’s the behavior we want.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1082

HB19-1102 Nonanimal and Lab-Grown Meat Misbranding (Sonnenberg, Ginal) [Pelton, Lewis]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSORS

Short Description:

States that food is misbranded if it described as meat or a particular cut of meat but is either not primarily derived from livestock or is derived from a process in which the cells were not grown within the physical body of living livestock and the label does not say “lab-grown” or “artificially cultured”.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

The FDA announced in November that lab-grown meat is coming. People deserve to know what they are consuming. If the label says meat, then the food better be meat. If the food is artificially created, then the label needs to say so. This is about letting people decide what they want to put into their own bodies, not about raising or destroying industries (but let’s also not forget the enormous energy required to run a lab, if we are tallying up environmental effects, and the numerous jobs that depend on the livestock industry). If people want lab-grown meat than that is fine, they can buy it. But people who don’t want it deserve the same consideration.

Arguments Against:

This is fear-mongering over the future and an attempt to put the thumb on the scale in the favor of livestock owners. Lab created meat has enormous potential to solve numerous problems including the enormous environmental impact of raising animals like cows and the ethical issues of properly treating animals we are going to then slaughter. Fewer natural resources, no slaughter, no need for growth hormones. But putting lab-grown on the label is going to give a lot of people pause, no matter how safe the FDA has said the meat is.

The FDA is really the one who is going to decide this issue. If they make a rule that contradicts this law, the FDA rule is going to override any state law.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1102

HB19-1114 Agriculture Commissioner Farm Produce Safety (Danielson, Cooke) [Catlin, D. Valdez]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Short Description:

Directs the state commissioner of agriculture to enter into an agreement with the FDA to implement and enforce federal food safety standards for agriculture in lieu of federal enforcement. The agreement is only to take effect if the commissioner can secure adequate federal funding. As part of the state enforcement efforts, all farms that sell more than $25,000 of produce annually (farms covered by federal law) must register with state. Commissioner authorized to enter and inspect farms during business hours, issue cease-and-desist orders, and impose penalties.

Long Description:

Directs the state commissioner of agriculture to enter into an agreement with the FDA to implement and enforce federal food safety standards for agriculture in lieu of federal enforcement. The agreement is only to take effect if the commissioner can secure adequate federal funding. As part of the state enforcement efforts, all farms that sell more than $25,000 of produce annually (farms covered by federal law) must register with state. If the FDA changes the threshold rule, the registration rule automatically changes to match it. Commissioner authorized to enter and inspect farms during business hours, issue cease-and-desist orders, and impose penalties. Individual penalties not to exceed $2,500.


Arguments For:

The state is better positioned than the federal government to carry out these inspections and make sure that Colorado’s farms are safe and producing food that is safe for us to eat. We are on the scene, have more of a stake in making sure all parties are treated fairly, and can bring more concentrated effort since we only have to worry about our state rather than the entire country. The bill is structured so that the state will not be on the hook for funds, if the federal government won’t fund the effort then we won’t do it.

Arguments Against:

The federal government is better positioned than the state to carry out these inspections and make sure that Colorado’s farms are safe and producing food that is safe for us to eat. They have years of expertise in this area, have less political pressure to go lightly on the state’s farmers, and can bring a more critical eye to multi-state operations.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1114

HB19-1132 School Incentives to Use Colorado Food and Producers (Coram) [Buentello]

AMENDED: Significant

PASSED

Short Description:

Creates a grant program to encourage schools that are entitled to federal money for school lunches to purchase food products from Colorado. Also establishes a program to grant money to a nonprofit organization to make grants to entities that aggregate Colorado food to encourage sale of Colorado food to schools.

Long Description:

Creates a grant program to encourage schools that are entitled to federal money for school lunches to purchase food products from Colorado. The program reimburses schools for the amount spent on state food products up to a formula dependent on the school’s total number of lunches and appropriations. Schools apply to be eligible for this program. The program is capped at 7 million lunches served in prior year. Preference is to be given to schools that demonstrate commitment to local products, have demonstrated ability to store and serve local products, and have more than 25% of students eligible for federal lunch programs. There is an exception: schools cannot be reimbursed for processed products that exceed 25% of the Colorado food total. There is also an incentive program for schools to increase their amount of Colorado food. If the total amount of food purchased was at least 50% from Colorado or the percentage of Colorado-based food increased by 2% over the previous year, the school gets $.01 for every lunch it provided. Also establishes a program to grant money to a nonprofit organization to make grants to entities that aggregate Colorado food to encourage sale of Colorado food. Grants are available for training, technical assistance, and physical infrastructure grants to aggregators that: support development and sustainability of state and regional food systems; support chef training; good agricultural practices certification; and capacity building. Grants can also be for education, outreach, and promotion.


Arguments For:

This is a win-win-win-win proposition. First, Colorado food producers are winners by selling more of their products. Second, Colorado kids are winners by getting healthier meals due to the processed food requirements in the bill. Third, Colorado schools are winners by getting bonus funds for serving unprocessed Colorado food. And fourth, the environment wins by selling these Colorado foods locally, meaning we do not have to transport them large distances out of state.

Arguments Against:

The nonpartisan state legislative council estimates that 40% of all school meals had some amount of Colorado food products in them, so we’re already doing very well by this metric and probably don’t need an inducement for schools to do more. In addition, the estimated bonus payments are just over $2 million total in 2021-22 which is a drop in the bucket when you spread it around the entire state’s school system. So schools aren’t going to be hugely affected by this. While this bill does not spend much money, it is money spent in an area that does not seem to be problem where it could be spent somewhere else.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1132

HB19-1162 Expand Farm Equipment Sales and Use Tax Exemption [Pelton]

PASSED

Short Description:

Extends a current sales and use tax exemption for cow ear tag identification systems and transponders to all ear tag identification systems and transponders used by a farm to identify or track food animals. This extension keeps the exemption limited only to counties or municipalities that already exclude farm equipment from sales and use taxes.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

It’s common sense to extend an exemption for tracking just one type of food production animal to all food production animals on farms. Farms with cows should not be given this sort of advantage over farms with chickens, turkeys, pigs, and other food animals.

Arguments Against:

The reason to have this exemption is to more easily track dairy products specifically, as these animals provide food through their milk.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1162

HB19-1191 Allow Farm Stands on Any Size Principal Use Site (Donovan) [Arndt]

AMENDED: Minor

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To level the playing field across the state when it comes to farm stands selling agricultural products from the farm on which it is located.

Short Description:

Permits farm stands to operate on their principal usage sites throughout the state regardless of underlying zoning. Unless the local government permits selling products that are not from the land where the stand is located, they must sell products that are grown or produced on the farm where the stand is located. Local governments can facilitate this operation through ordinance or laws but cannot limit or restrict it altogether based on zoning or farm size.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

Farm stands are a key tool for farms to use to sell their products to consumers and drive face-to-face interactions with potential customers. But in many places across the state, acreage size can prevent a farm from getting agricultural operation designation, which in turn prevents the operation of a farm stand at all. Because the bill requires the stand to sell goods from the location where the stand is operated, zoning becomes irrelevant to ensuring that the goods come from the place where the stand is located.

Arguments Against:

This tramples on local control. If a jurisdiction wants to limit what it considers a “farm” and what it wants in terms of farm stands on roads, then that is up to the local jurisdiction, not a sweeping statewide mandate.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1191

HB19-1200 Reclaimed Domestic Wastewater Point of Compliance (Bridges, Coram) [Arndt]

AMENDED: Technical

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To make it easier for reclaimed domestic wastewater to be used for irrigation and toilet flushing.

Description:

Removes the requirement that reclaimed wastewater used for indoor nonpotable uses accessible to the general public have a point of compliance (where all treatment has been completed) at the location where water is delivered to the occupied premises. In these cases the state may create rules to govern when an extra point of compliance is required, based on a determination that it would protect public health.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

The law as it was written is too stringent for these indoor uses by requiring a point of compliance at the building it makes it very difficult for retrofitting and expensive for new construction. We need to make sure that such a burden is truly necessary in each case in order to truly achieve the water conservation aims of this law.

Arguments Against:

This is a primarily a water safety concern. Requiring a point of compliance at the building ensures that each building that participates has a point we can got to and inspect. Making the system more complicated makes any potential problem more complicated: finding out where the point of compliance is, then making sure the problem is solely at that point and not somewhere else in the system prior to reaching the building, etc.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1200

HB19-1202 Food Systems Advisory Council (Ginal, Priola) [McLachlan, Galindo]

PASSED

Goal: To shift the food systems advisory council to Colorado State University and update its membership and responsibilities.

Description:

Moves the food systems advisory council from the department of agriculture to Colorado State University. Ends the current membership of the committee and revises its membership structure. Tweaks the council’s mission to focus on:

  • Implementing the recommendations of the Colorado blueprint of food and agriculture project (developed by CSU and the council).
  • Growing food economies within which producers have access to new markets and low-income populations have access to fresh, affordable, and healthy food.
  • Researching national best practices for food and nutrition assistance, market development, institutional procurement, and farm-to-school programs.
  • Collaborate with local and regional food policy councils.
  • Explore methods of collecting and assessing statewide data relating to council activities.

Additional Information:

The new membership is composed of: one member each from the departments of education, public health and environment, agriculture, and human services; one member from CSU; one member from the state office of public development. Also 16 members appointed by the governor: two recipients of federal food assistance; two representing different sectors of agricultural development; two from food wholesalers or retailers; one from a statewide anti-hunger campaign; two knowledgeable about federal agencies in relation to federal food programs; one from an academic institution specializing in the field; two representing institutional procurement organizations; one from a nonprofit engaged in farm-to-school activities; one from a food distributor; one knowledgeable about nutrition; and one representing a statewide healthy food systems organization. The appointments are to be as geographically and socially diverse as possible.


Arguments For:

The state’s food council was created in 2010 after a call from the federal government to create food councils around the country to address the fact that no state was meeting national goals for the amount of fruit and vegetables that Americans should be eating. CSU worked with the council to release a blueprint in 2017 for future investments all over the state in food and agriculture to build local, regional, and state food economies that will create jobs and better access to healthy and fresh food. The council needs to keep working on this task as it shifts into more of an implementation phase and it would be best suited to be housed at CSU to do so.

Arguments Against:

The council has gotten even bigger in this bill (22 members instead of 15) and moving it from a state agency to a state university is likely to make it harder for it to navigate the levers of power necessary for implementing big things on a statewide level.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1202

HB19-1218 Loaned Water for Instream Flows to Improve Environment [Roberts]

AMENDED: Moderate

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Goal: To increase ability of state water conservation board to obtain loaned water to improve natural environment.

Description:

Allows state water conservation board to loan water from water rights holders for improving natural environment on a water flow right or for the natural environment on streams the board does not hold a water flow right upon. Also increases the number of years within a 10 year period a loan can be exercised from 3 to 5 years and allows a loan to be renewed for up to 2 additional 10 year periods. Can only do three years in a row.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Keeping water in a stream helps our environment and the fishing industry. Low flows hurt everyone in the area: less groundwater, worse fishing and hunting conditions, and disruptions to the natural environment. This bill just tweaks our already existing program to allow water rights owners more flexibility, in particular since this program is onerous and hard to get into. Allowing this additional flexibility may make it more worth it for some water rights owners to participate. The program is already set-up to be difficult to do, there is a lot of oversight and checks to make sure keeping the water in stream won’t hurt others who rely on the water.

Arguments Against:

Pulling the water out of the system to keep in in a stream can harm farmers who rely on the irrigation to keep their fields operable. Too much pulling of the water out the system could harm these producers in a long-term manner where it’s too late once we realize there is a problem. This bill may also cause problems with state drought contingency programs.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1218

HB19-1271 Augmention of Instream Flows [Arndt]

AMENDED: Minor

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Goal: To allow the state to use water rights it acquires for stream flow augmentation if the right was already so designated.

Description:

Clarifies that state water conservation board may augment stream flows to preserve or improve natural environment to a reasonable degree by using an acquired water right that had been previously quantified and changed to include augmentation use, without any further changes to the water right. This is subject to any terms and conditions that are necessary to prevent injury to the owners of water rights affected by this use.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

This is mostly clarifying that the state can use these rights to increase flows, but also improve the process of these augmentation rights to ensure no injury occurs to other water rights holders.

Arguments Against:

This could damage the water rights of ranchers and growers and municipalities. Anytime you are keeping more water in the river, you are running the risk of consequences unforeseen at water court.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1271

HB19-1329 Wholesale Sales Agricultural Fertilizer Tax Exempt (Sonnenberg) [Arndt, McKean]

PASSED

Goal: To exempt fertilizer and spray adjuvants used in agricultural and livestock production from sales tax.

Description:

Adds fertilizer and spray adjuvants to the definition of wholesale sales, which exempts them from sales tax.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Until 2014 fertilizer for agricultural producers was exempt from sales tax. Then the rules were changed. While 89% of agricultural producers do still get this exemption in other ways, that leaves 11% out and livestock out completely. Spray adjuvants are products that increase effectiveness of pesticides. In both of these cases, these are products farmers and ranchers must have in order to successfully produce our food. A perfect definition of something that deserves this wholesale exemption: business-to-business activity that benefits us all. The estimated revenue loss in minimal, under $1 million.

Arguments Against:

This isn’t really a wholesale product. It may be sold in large quantities but it is not going to be sold again, it is going to be used. While we all appreciate our state farmers and ranchers, they don’t deserve this extra protection from sales tax for activity that just about every industry participates in: buying products to use to create your own product.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB19-1329

SB19-038 Agricultural Trailers Port of Entry Clearance (Sonnenberg) [Pelton]

KILLED BY BILL SPONSOR

Short Description:

Exempts motor vehicles hauling trailers primarily used for agricultural commodities, including livestock, from the requirement that all motor vehicles with either an empty weight of at least 16,000 pounds or a fully loaded weight of more than 26,000 pounds clear a port of entry within 5 miles of its route when entering the state.

Long Description: n/a

Arguments For:

It is a major inconvenience for those hauling livestock to have to go through the entire port of entry rigmarole every time they cross the border. The big commercial operations, like those that clear the thresholds here, have other regulations in place and we don’t need to clear them every time.

Arguments Against:

The state has already addressed this issue by making a 3 year revocable permit to easily clear without hitting the port of entry each time. In addition, to be eligible for certain grant funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the state must adequately enforce vehicle size and weight regulations on the highway system. Ports of entry are the primary point of size and weight enforcement in Colorado. The Colorado State Patrol recently applied for $4.5 million in grant funds from the Federal Highway Administration.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-038

SB19-147 Sunset Seed Potato Grower Regulation (Hisey, Sonnenberg) [D. Valdez]

PASSED

Goal: To extend regulations on potato growers in the state and implement recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies.

Description:

Extends regulation on potato growers relating to seed potatoes through 2028. Repeals the option to have an independent auditor perform records review relating to the act. Repeals maximum fine limit of $2,500. Makes some technical changes.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies sunset report: “The intent of the Act is to control and limit the spread of contagious community diseases in Colorado’s potato crop. Although results cannot necessarily be attributed to the Act, evidence suggests that the level of at least one type of potato disease has declined in recent years. Therefore, the General Assembly should continue the Act for nine years, until 2028.” The independent auditor has basically never been utilized, and the department of regulatory agencies found that the fine limit was far too low to be a deterrent and in fact in some cases it may have been more economical to violate the act and pay the fine.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-147

SB19-148 Sunset Process Seed Potato Advisory Committee (Hisey, Sonnenberg) [D. Valdez, Catlin]

SIGNED INTO LAW

Goal: To extend the seed potato advisory committee and implement recommendations of the department of regulatory agencies.

Description:

Extends the seed potato advisory committee until 2028. Replaces a department of agriculture member of the council with a potato grower who does not grow seed potatoes. Makes some technical changes.

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies sunset review report: “The Advisory Committee provides potato growers with a mechanism to participate in the implementation of the Act  by providing input to the Department and the Commissioner on audits of grower records and current practices in the seed and commercial potato industries. Therefore, the General Assembly should continue the Advisory Committee.”

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-148

SB19-150 Sunset Public Livestock Markets (Donovan, Sonnenberg) [Buentello]

AMENDED: Minor

PASSED

Goal: To continue current regulations on public livestock markets and implement the department of regulatory agencies’ recommendations.

Description:

Extends regulation of livestock markets through 2034. Removes superfluous financial information reporting requirements. Replaces exact spatial requirements for livestock auctions with dictate that they are of adequate size. Makes it clear that the state board of livestock inspection does not regulate the sanitation of public livestock markets.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

From the department of regulatory agencies sunset review report: “Given that there are many legally required practices that must occur at a point of sale and that many sales take place at public livestock markets, it is reasonable to conclude that public livestock markets should be regulated.”

Arguments Against:

The same report also says, “The degree to which the state regulates must be considered. This is especially so given that in addition to a public livestock market license, an operator must obtain a farm products license which is also issued by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.” There were no formal complaints made during the time reviewed by department. Perhaps the farm products license is sufficient.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-150

SB19-186 Expand Agricultural Chemical Management Program Protect Surface Water (Donovan, Coram) [Arndt]

PASSED

Goal: To expand commissioner of agriculture’s management plans to include surface and subsurface waters.

Description:

Currently the commissioner of agriculture is responsible for management of use of agricultural chemicals to protect groundwater. This bill expands the scope of this management to include state waters, which would include surface and subsurface waters.

Additional Information: n/a

Arguments For:

Surface waters are just as important to protect from agricultural chemicals as groundwater. We use surface waters for irrigation, water consumption, water for animals, recreation, and much more.

Arguments Against: n/a

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-186

SB19-221 CO Water Conservation Board Construction Fund Project (Donovan) [Roberts]

AMENDED: Technical

PASSED

Goal: To appropriate funds from the water conservation construction fund for uses on various projects.

Description:

Transfers $2.5 million from water conservation construction fund to water supply reserve fund, $2 million to litigation fund, and $1.9 million to various water projects. Also appropriates $17.5 million to continue implementation of state water plan and authorizes loans of up to $15.2 million for the Walker recharge project. Repeals the annual transfer of funds from severance taxes to the construction fund and makes a one-time transfer of $10 million for this year.

Additional Information:

Also extends ability to use funds for Republican River matters (already appropriated) until the money is spent, authorizes annual transfers to feasibility study grant program and flood and draught response fund to ensure both have a free balance of $500,000.

$1.9 million breaks out as follows:

  • $380k for continuation of satellite monitoring system
  • $500k for continuation of state floodplain map modernization
  • $175k for continuation of weather modification permitting program
  • $150k for continuation of Mesonet project
  • $250k for continuation of instream flow engineering support
  • $200k for acquisition of LIDAR data
  • $200k for technical assistance grants for beneficiaries of federal Colorado River Storage Project Act

$17.5 million breaks out as follows:

  • Up to $4 million for watershed health goals
  • Up to $3 million for to facilitate development of additional storage, artificial aquifer recharge, and dredging existing reservoirs
  • Up to $1 million for agricultural projects
  • Up to $1 million for grants to improve long-term strategies for conservation, land use, and drought planning
  • Up to $500k for grants for water education, outreach, and innovation efforts
  • Up to $1.5 million for environmental and recreational projects
  • Up to $1 million for continued funding of alternative agricultural grant program
  • Up to $5.5 million for updates to basin implementation plans, improving basin data collection, and metrics for tracking state water plan implementation


Arguments For:

Colorado's Water Plan leveraged and integrated the work accomplished by Colorado’s nine Basin Roundtables, the Interbasin Compact Committee, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), and partners and stakeholders statewide since 2005 to determine how to implement water supply planning solutions that meet Colorado’s future water needs while supporting healthy watersheds and the environment; robust recreation and tourism economies; vibrant and sustainable cities; and viable and productive agriculture. With the plan finalized in 2015, the Colorado water community has shifted to implementation of the measurable objectives and critical actions set forth in the plan to ensure that Colorado can meet its future water needs and continues to be a thriving state to work, play, and live. While it is true that there is a need for larger amounts of funds, severance taxes are drying up, which is why this bill stops the transfer of funds there (the money just isn’t there anymore), and the bulk of the money required ($20 billion is estimated in total) is going to come from water rates in local water districts and federal grants and loans. The rest is going to require asking the citizens of Colorado for additional funding, we simply cannot take money away from schools or roads or healthcare right now.

Arguments Against:

This is a proverbial drop in the bucket. To fully implement our state water plan by 2050 the estimate is that we need to spend $100 million a year to reach the $3 billion required to fill the funding gap and that was with counting on some severance tax revenue for the rest of the $17 billion. Obviously we cannot get $100 million, the state budget won’t support it. But just under $18 million is nowhere close.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB19-221