No on state’s Referendum A |

No on state’s Referendum A

Every Western Slope voter should pay close attention to Referendum A, a $2 billion blank check to Front Range water developers eager to further tap rivers and streams west of the Continental Divide.

The question would authorize the Colorado Water Conservation Board to issue up to $2 billion in loans for water projects, direct the board to cook up plans for at least two projects by 2005, and require the governor to approve at least one.

With 4 million residents, Colorado may need more water projects to weather another drought, but Referendum A is a dangerous, in-a-hurry way to finance these projects.

It calls on the state government to make decisions on which water projects should be built, rather than casting a net for projects proposed by local residents.

It provides the financing for water projects, but no strategy for affordable repayment by users.

But the real clincher is that Referendum A sets up the state government to plunder Western Slope and San Luis Valley rivers with more transmountain diversions.

That’s because the measure carries no protections for the river basins from which water could be diverted, for such questionable purposes as irrigating spacious bluegrass lawns in Front Range suburbia.

Trout streams, endangered fish habitat, riverside ecosystems, whitewater boating and classic Western Slope scenery be damned – a Referendum A-funded water project would not be obligated to make up for the water it diverts from the basin of origin.

It’s unfortunate that our own state representative, Gregg Rippy, cast the decisive House committee vote allowing the referendum to move forward. When it hit the House floor, where his vote was largely symbolic, he voted no.

The Nov. 4 ballot is the last stand against this bad idea. No Western Slope voter should miss the chance to vote no on Referendum A.

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