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Landowners cheer SB 72’s failure

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BRIGHTON — Landowners along the South Platte River say they dodged a bullet after Senate Bill 72 failed to make it out of committee earlier this month.

Members of the Water Rights Association of the South Platte heralded the failure of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, and Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins. The group represents landowners and water rights holders across 240,000 irrigated acres near the South Platte between Barr Lake and Julesburg.

The bill would have forgiven all future depletions of the South Platte well done pumping prior to Sept. 12, 2013, as a result of the historic floods.

Multiple witnesses during a Feb. 6 legislative committee hearing took exception to the idea behind the bill that the flooding had filled the South Platte Aquifer, as well as the language of the bill, which WRASP noted “would override water court decrees and undo stipulations between parties in hundreds of water court cases, making it unconstitutional,” in addition to causing significant injury to water rights holders.

The bill failed to make it out of the committee on a 5-2 vote.  

In a news release concerning the vote, WRASP member Joe Frank expressed ongoing concern with the idea behind the bill. 

“WRASP is always willing to work with legislators but we were never contacted by the bill’s sponsors before the bill was introduced,” Frank said.