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Weekly water roundup: Rafting bill hitting a rougher road in the state senate

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Photo via Coyote Gulch archives

Short takes from the last couple of weeks in Colorado water:

HB 10-1188 (Clarify River Outfitter Navigation Right) faces uncertain future

State Representative Kathleen Curry's bill that would allow commercial rafters emergency landfalls and portages seems to be facing an uphill slog in the State Senate. The bill was assigned to Mary Hodge's Judiciary Committee where members will scrutinize the legal aspects including whether allowing the commercial rafters limited rights is a taking of private property.

According to a report in the Summit Daily News State Representative Christine Scanlan belives there will be an attempt to stop the bill in committee.

Curry told the Summit Daily News that:

...she believes the bill's foes are making a strategic mistake if they kill the bill. They know what they are getting with her bill, she said. Commercial outfitters will likely force a ballot initiative if the bill fails, and no one can be certain whether it would be as narrow as what Curry is seeking. Curry's bill only applies to commercial outfitters, not to the average recreational boater with his or her own raft. And it only addresses stretches of rivers that have a history of commercial rafting — not to those that haven't yet seen much commercial activity.

Curry also told the Aspen Times that there are at least 17 lobbyists working to defeat the bill, or almost one for one for needed no votes.

Colorado to release 303d list on Tuesday

Each year the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment compiles a list of impaired waters -- the so called 303d list. On Tuesday we'll know what surface water vessels made the list for this year.

Juniata Reservoir will make the list. It serves Grand Junction and is going on the list due to a fish consumption advisory. The town considered removing all the offending species to keep it off the list but has since come to their senses.

Snowpack news

The snowpack news is average in the southern mountains and below average to average in the northern mountains. Water providers are generally in good shape storage wise for the summer but all are keeping one eye on the sky trying to forecast this year's runoff.

Moab: First million ton milestone

The federal project hauling uranium tailings from beside the Colorado River near Moab hit 1 million tons recently. Project operators and the American taxpayer have 15 million tons to go.

Yampa tap water wins taste test

The town of Yampa adds a little chlorine to water coming off the Flat Tops and pretty much just leaves it alone otherwise. The town's water was judged best tasting in the state at recent meeting of the Colorado Rural Water Association in Colorado Springs.

It's the same water

There's a new billboard on I-70 near Floyd Hill that is reminding east-bounders of the impact that water diversions have on the rainy side of Colorado. The billboard is the brainchild of the Colorado River District and the Northwest Council of Governments.

The billboard reads, in part, "It's the same water. Conserve it."

Alamosa hit with lawsuit over March 2008 salmonella outbreak

John Riley, a Greenwood Village lawyer, and Drew Falkenstein of Marler Clark, a Seattle- based firm that specializes in bacterial contamination cases, filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of 29 victims of the city's salmonella outbreak.

Subsequent investigations of the incident have pinpointed poorly maintained ground level storage for allowing animal waste into the treated water system. The plaintiffs are alleging negligence on the part of the town.

The CDPHE recently ordered two more San Luis Valley towns -- Manasa and Monte Vista -- to chlorinate in addition to requiring Alamosa to chlorinate after the incident.

Shell withdraws Yampa River water rights application

Oil shale is still not economical to develop so Shell recently dropped their application for water rights on the Yampa River. The company says they'll be back but could not justify the expenditure of the filing giving the current state of the economy and technology.

For more info: I follow Colorado water issues at Coyote Gulch.

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