Yes on 4A for River District |

Yes on 4A for River District

It’s hard to argue against a ballot question that would freeze a property tax mill levy that is so low most taxpayers hardly notice it on their bill.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District is asking voters in the 15 counties it serves to do just that, by exempting the district from the tax-collecting restrictions of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

The river district’s board has a commendable plan for spending any tax increases that might result from increases in property values over the coming years.

They would buy water rights in Ruedi and Blue Mesa reservoirs, repair aging reservoirs, help local water districts build new small projects and work to control selenium pollution from irrigation runoff.

Purchasing water rights in federal reservoirs is a particularly good plan, since the river district could resell the water within a few weeks of getting a request. By contrast, federal officials have taken from three to 10 years to process such requests.

With drought conditions never far away, that kind of flexibility would be a huge help for Western Slope communities and irrigation districts running low on water.

Money could also be used to help local water districts build small water projects, the kind of environmentally acceptable projects that store water within its natural basin and benefit those who live nearby.

That’s a contrast to the statewide ballot question, Referendum A (not to be confused with the river district’s question 4A), which would bankroll $2 billion in water projects that are almost guaranteed to grab water from Western Slope rivers and channel it to Front Range suburbs.

The river district’s question 4A is the right way for Western Slope residents to fund properly-scaled water projects, acquire water already stored in reservoirs, and deal with the growing hazards of selenium pollution.

A yes vote on question 4A is the right way to vote.

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