One of the most contentious topics in the parched American West took another turn when the Colorado House of Representatives gave preliminary approval to a bill that would prohibit government entities from using eminent domain to condemn water rights.
Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg (R-Sterling), the measure passed with bipartisan support on its third reading. Sen. Brandon Shaffer (D-Boulder) has introduced the Senate version, where it has been assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
“Water rights do not have the same qualities as fixed real estate,” Sonnenberg said in an interview with The Pueblo Chieftain. “One drop of water in the headwaters is essentially the same as another drop located at the state line. As such, governments, like private citizens, can develop and use water from a wide range of locations. The ability to use and develop Colorado’s water resources is not tied to a specific location or a specific water right.”
Not surprisingly, a variety of organizations oppose the bill, including one of the state’s most powerful entities, Denver Water. Established in 1918, Denver Water is Colorado’s oldest and largest water utility and is responsible for the collection, storage, and distribution of water to 1 in 4 Coloradans.