Colorado Legislature addresses states water future Email
Written by Lori Tobias   
Monday, November 06, 2023 12:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

It’s too early to know what water-related bills Colorado legislators will take up when the legislative session convenes in January, but a bipartisan, joint committee of 10 House and Senate members has kept the subject alive throughout the summer and fall. The Water Resources and Agriculture Review Committee, charged with studying “the conservation, use, development and financing of the water resources of Colorado for the general welfare of its inhabitants,” met to discuss potential bills, visit stream restoration projects and attend the Colorado Water Congress Summer Conference in Steamboat Springs over the summer. 

Bills that make it out of the committee, which started meeting year-round last year, have a good chance of becoming law, says committee vice-chair Rep. Karen McCormick, D-District 11. “This committee has a little more power because it’s a joint committee and we have to have bipartisan support for any bill that gets out of this committee. So, for a bill to get through this committee and out with a two-thirds vote or more means that it’s probably a good idea that’s going to be able to get through the full General Assembly.” Democrats have a historic majority in the legislature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the party has a “slam dunk” with any initiative, McCormick notes. “The larger your majority becomes, the more likely you’re going to have disparate voices within your majority. Some of your biggest support may be from the other party. So, you have to know that it’s important to really work a policy. If you want legacy policy, you need to make sure that all important voices are heard, that you’re willing to amend your bill to make it stand up over time.”

Getting tough on turf

One of the measures the Water Resources Committee may move out this fall was requested by Sen. Dylan Roberts, D-District 8. It would prohibit or limit non-functional turf grass or grass that is strictly for appearances and serves no other function. Several municipalities have started turf replacement programs, while others have adopted varied fee structures to incentivize water-wise landscaping. The City of Aurora already has in place restrictions on the use of non- functional turf grass, McCormick says.  Full story in our Colorado Green magazine.