The Colorado Water for the 21st Century Act is a law enacted in Colorado in 2005. Summarized as "Concerning the negotiation of interbasin compacts regarding the equitable division of the state's waters, and making an appropriation in connection therewith," it sets up a basin roundtable in each river basis of Colorado and an Interbasin Compact Committee. It also provides for a Director of Compact Negotiations to be appointed by the governor. Their duty is to support the basin roundtables and serve as chairperson of the Interbasin Compact Committee. Each basin roundtable sends 2 delegates to the Interbasis Compact Committee.
The law is the brainchild of Russell George Director of the Colroado Department of Natural Resources, but was introduced as House Bill 05-1177 by Representative Josh Penry of Grand Junction with 31 other House sponsors and 10 Senate sponsors. George's initiative was inspired by Delph Carpenter's successful work when the federal government and the states of the Colorado River Basin sucessfully negotiated the Colorado River Compact in 1922.
The basin roundtables are the South Platte Basin Roundtable being the South Platte River basin, being most of the water adjudicated by Colorado Water Division 1; the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, being the Arkansas River basin, Colorado Water Division 2; the Rio Grande Basin Roundtable, being the Rio Grande basin (San Luis Valley}, Colorado Water Division 3; the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, being the Gunnison River basin, Colorado Water Division 5, the Colorado Basin Roundtable, being the Colorado River basin, Colorado Water Division 5; the Yampa-White Roundtable, being the basins of the Yampa River and the White River, being part of Colorado Water Division 6, but excluding Water Management District 47; the Dolores, San Miguel, and San Juan Basins Roundtable, being the basins of the Dolores River, the San Miguel River, and the San Juan Rivers, Colorado Water Division 7; the Metro Roundtable, basically the Denver metropolitan area in Water Division 1; the North Platte Roundtable, being the North Platte River basin.
Members of the roundtablesEdit
One member appointed by each county in the basin, one member appointed by the towns and cities in each county, one member appointed by each water conservancy or water conservation district in the basin, and ten at-large members representing agricultural interests, recreational interests, local domestic water provider interests, industrial interests, and environmental interests, half of whom shall own adjudicated water rights. Provision is made for nonvoting members who own water rights in the basin but do not reside there, this would include representatives of municipal water providers who have water rights in distant basin. One member is appointed jointly by the chairpersons of the House Agricultural, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee of the Colorado General Assembly.
Duties of the roundtablesEdit
In addition to organizing themselves and engaging in public education and outreach, each roundtables is charged with "Using data and information from the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWASI) and other appropriate resources and in cooperation with SWASI , develop a basin-wide consumptive and nonconsumptive water supply needs assessment, conduct an analysis of available unappropriated waters within the basin, and propose projects or methods, both structural and nonstructural, for meeting those needs and utilizing those unappropriated waters where appropriate." Basin roundtables "shall actively seek the input and advice of affected local governments, water providers, and other interested [stakeholder]]s and persons in establishing its needs assessment, and shall propose projects or methods for meeting those needs." The products of this work shall be forwarded to the Interbasin Compact Committee.
Interbasin Compact CommitteeEdit
Each of the roundtables is entitled to send two representatives to the Interbasin Compact Committee (the IBCC) which will meet in Denver. In addition six at-large members shall be appointed by the Governor, one by the Chairperson of the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee and one by the Chairperson of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee. Sen. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus, Chairperson of the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee, has stated that he intends to nominate himself. According to Isgar, Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison, Chairperson of the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee, also plans to nominate herself. The Committee will be chaired by Russell George.
After organizing itself the IBCC is charged with drafting a Interbasin Compact Charter and referring it to the Colorado General Assembly. That charter, if adopted by the General Assembly, shall govern and guide all negotiations between basin roundtables. A deadline of July 1, 2006 is set by the act. Failure to refer a compact by the deadline results in repeal of the act. According to a pessimistic editorial opinion in The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction, Colorado on Colorado's Western Slope prospects are dim given Colorado's long history of conflict over transbasin diversions and the wide disparity in population between the fast-growing water hungry urbanized areas of the front range and the sparsely populated water rich Western Slope.
The Interbasin Compact CharterEdit
The Interbasin Compact Charter shall, by the terms of the act, include "a negotiating framework and foundational principles to guide voluntary negotiations between basin roundtables, including present and future consumptive and nonconsumptive water uses and such policies as may be necessary to ensure that compacts or other agreements between roundtables do not conflict or otherwise not conform with one another". Subject to existing water rights, Colorado's water rights adjudication system, and the right of holders of water rights to buy, sell, or contract regarding water rights, the act further provides that the charter contain "procedures for ratifying compacts or other agreements between basin roundtables, including the requirement that every basin roundtable whose waters are affected by a proposed compact or other agreement shall provide its affirmative support for such proposed contract or other agreement before such compact or agreement is final or binding; as deemed appropriate by the Interbasin Compact Committee but subject [to existing water rights and Colorado water law ] authorities and procedures for making compacts or other agreements between roundtables legally binding and enforceable; and as deemed appropriate by the Interbasin Compact Committee, procedures for integrating the processes established in this article with existing planning, permitting, and public participation processes related to the conservation and development of water within Colorado; except that no provision of the charter shall supercede, impair or otherwise modify the authority, jurisdiction, or permitting powers of counties or other local government entities."
Public education and outreachEdit
Each basin roundtable is charged with developing a public education, participation, and outreach working group to inform the public regarding the Interbasin Compact Committee's activities and the progress of negotiations and to develop means for public feedback to the Committee. Public education efforts are contemplated both toward the members of the roundtables and the general public in the basin served by the roundtable. The services of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service have been made available to the basin roundtables though local extension agents who are able to draw on the resources of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute, a division of Colorado State University, a land grant college.