Colorado water stewardship project: a singular mission
The purpose of the Colorado Water Stewardship Project (CWSP) is to ensure that the Colorado Water Congress (CWC) members and water stakeholders from around the state are prepared for any Public Trust Doctrine ballot initiatives that would disrupt ownership and management of Colorado’s water resources.
The Public Trust Initiative “would drop what amounts to a nuclear bomb on Colorado water rights and land rights,” and “would strip members of the public, cities, farms and families throughout this state of their most valuable economic interests.” — Justice Gregory Hobbs
Specifically, the project analyzes public understanding of the Doctrine and informs water stakeholders of the implications of a Public Trust Doctrine in Colorado. CWSP monitors all ballot filings and legal actions for a Public Trust Doctrine and challenges these to every possible extent.
public trust doctrine
The Public Trust Doctrine is the concept that Colorado’s environment is the common property of all Coloradans. Governments are to act as trustees of air, water, natural, and scenic values for the benefit of all the people.
The Doctrine would:
The Public Trust Doctrine holds no legal authority in Colorado, and is inconsistent with (i) the Colorado Constitution, (ii) existing state laws, and (iii) over 150 years of Colorado case law and water allocation. The Colorado Water Congress opposes public trust initiatives on the grounds they are unwise, unnecessary, expensive and disruptive to the fair and responsible allocation and stewardship of Colorado’s water resources.
Colorado has a history of challenges to its system of water allocation through ballot issues – with a Public Trust Doctrine initiative first surfacing in 1992. The following are the Public Trust related initiatives on the 2016 ballot. More information on each initiative coming soon!
Other initiatives that the CWC is monitoring include:
- Ballot Initiative #78: Mandatory Setback for Oil & Gas Development: signatures were turned in. This initiative would require mandatory setback of 2,500 feet from any occupied structure or area of special interest (including water supplies, creeks, and ditches). The Secretary of State has stated that this initiative will not be on the ballot due to insufficient valid signatures.