Garfield County looks for help to comply with legislation |

Garfield County looks for help to comply with legislation

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County officials are seeking the help of a water attorney and a water engineer to help them comply with a bill the legislature passed this year.

That legislation requires developers of proposed developments of 50 or more single-family homes to demonstrate to local governments that the water supply for their proposed development application would be sufficient and stable.

A memo from the county attorney’s office said the law prohibits a local government from approving those developments unless it first determines that a developer has “satisfactorily demonstrated that the proposed water supply will be adequate.”

County commissioners, on a unanimous vote, agreed to give the county attorney’s office the ability to retain a water attorney and water engineer as the county begins complying with HB 1141, which was written by Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison.

Deborah Quinn, assistant Garfield County attorney, said it was necessary to start seeking help immediately because HB 1141 is currently in effect, and that building permits that can fall under the law’s purview may be coming to the county.

County Attorney Don DeFord said the cost to retain a water attorney and engineer is expected to be around $10,000.

Under the legislation’s language, developers would have to submit a report that documents the proposed project’s water demands and supplies to local governments.

Information in the reports would have to include an estimate of water demands the development would have when it is built out, a description of the water supply that will serve the project and any water conservation efforts that may be implemented.

Those reports would have to be drafted by a professional engineer or a water supply expert, according to text of the legislation.

Commissioner Larry McCown said he had a concern that there might be no water attorneys and water engineers in the area who don’t have a potential conflict of interest.

McCown also said he was concerned that the “information we are going to get back is so global” that every issue will have to be referred back to a water engineer and water attorney. In that case, the county may just as well hire a water attorney and a water engineer, he said.

“This is an unfunded mandate from the state,” he said.

DeFord noted that once the county establishes its policy to comply with HB 1141, that doesn’t end the county’s need for expertise from water engineers and water attorneys. They would still need to be consulted for significant projects, he said.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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