Don’t Ask the State to Confiscate Water Rights

Posted on: June 15th, 2012 by admin 1 Comment

IP-8-2012 (June 2012)
Author: J. Craig Green

PDF of full Issue Paper
Scribd version of full Issue Paper

In next November’s election, voters may be asked to destroy Colorado’s 160-year-old system of water rights. A pair of ballot proposals, for which signatures are currently being collected, would essentially confiscate the water rights of cities, water districts, farmers, and ranchers by making them subordinate to the whims of any Colorado citizen who complains to a court about their legal status.

The Colorado Constitution has always recognized water as a public resource, but has also made it subject to claims for private uses. Under the Constitution, water rights can be claimed for beneficial purposes such as irrigation, domestic and city uses, among many others. Farmers and breweries can own water rights, as can cities.

However, the authors of this year’s proposed ballot initiatives #3 and #45 want to eliminate Colorado’s constitutional language which recognizes long-established private and public claims to water, including those established long before Colorado became a state.

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One Response

  1. Joe Miller says:

    Thank you for informing us about the upcoming ballots that may take our family farms water rights away from us. My father started farming on the home place here in 1949 and in that time a lot has happened with water rights.

    First of all the Governor is NOT correct when he said that he was not going to take water away from people who have had those rights since the 1970’s. In that particular situation it was changed for the wells having to augment water back into the aquifer to replenish it. It was in 2004 these wells were taken away from the farmers that changed the water rights of all farmers here taking our way of living away in many cases.

    Now what is left of the family farm is in danger. We have worked to adapt to the situations that have been handed to us even though we felt they were incorrectly done so. Many of the ditches that supply water for our crops are being shut off. Each day we hear from neighbors that their ditch is closed until it rains.

    All that is needed is just 30 days of water to be able to be taken from the aquifer to hold our crops until it finally rains. If it rains and the ditches fill up we would stop using the wells imeadiatly. It is that easy. But our Governor has decided that the votes of 150 or so farmers is worth losing for a good PR statement that he is keeping the water rights to those who took it from us in the first place.


    Joe and Chris Miller
    Miller Farms
    Platteville, CO

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