WHEREAS in 1973 the Colorado Legislature passed landmark legislation to protect Colorado’s natural environment through a pioneer in-stream flow law; and
WHEREAS since the inception of Colorado’s instream flow program, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) has adjudicated instream flow rights on nearly 10,000 miles of Colorado’s streams and rivers and 480 rights to protect natural lake levels; and
WHEREAS the CWCB has the exclusive authority under Colorado law to appropriate water for instream flows, and it has a legislative mandate to balance environmental protections with potentially competing consumptive water uses; and
WHEREAS the current instream flow program allows the CWCB to file for new water rights appropriations for the minimum amount of water necessary to “preserve the natural environment to a reasonable degree” (C.R.S. 37-92-102 (3)); and
WHEREAS the current instream flow program allows the CWCB to accept senior absolute water rights for conversion to instream flow rights when and where such senior rights would “improve the natural environment -to a reasonable degree” (C.R.S. 37-92-102 (3)); and
WHEREAS the Colorado instream flow program has proven its ability to balance protection of Colorado’s stream and lake environments with other agricultural, industrial and municipal water uses, in accordance with Colorado’s Prior Appropriation Doctrine; and
WHEREAS Colorado’s in-stream flow program is a successful, state-based alternative to federally imposed by-pass flow requirements; and
WHEREAS the CWCB has a statutory obligation to protect both existing water users and the ability to fully develop Colorado’s water entitlements.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports Colorado’s landmark instream flow program and opposes any legislative proposal or initiative intended to significantly change Colorado’s instream flow legislation and insists that any proposal or initiative should be pursued only following extensive discussion by all interested parties and only with a broad consensus, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED Club 20 opposes instream flow appropriations or donations when they exceed the amount reasonably necessary for the protection of the environment or do not sufficiently accommodate other existing or potential water uses. An instream flow right should not be pursed nor granted if it would materially impair the ability to fully develop for beneficial use Colorado’s entitlements under the Colorado River Compacts of 1922 and 1948,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the state should periodically review its instream flows rights for potential modification based on improved science and updated water availability data, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Club 20 supports the statutory protection for water uses, decreed or not, existing at the time of an instream flow adjudication, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that instream flow water rights applications should be based on predictable and reproducible science and water availability data, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that appropriation of “all unappropriated flow” by the CWCB for instream flow must be supported by clear and convincing evidence that such quantity is the minimum amount necessary to protect the natural environment.
Adopted 3/ 8/ 2002