Water election bill introduced

Brief by Central Staff

Water – March 2003 – Colorado Central Magazine

Every so often, a politician keeps a campaign promise, and so we’re pleased to report that Rep. Paul Weissmann, a Democrat from Louisville on the Front Range, has come through on a pledge he made last fall.

He promised to introduce a bill that would require elections for water conservancy districts, and on Jan. 27, he brought forth HB-1195.

As it is now, conservancy district directors are appointed by district judges in almost all cases. Under current law, it is possible to petition for a one-time election for a seat, but the process is so cumbersome that it has occurred only a handful of times in Colorado history. One time was in the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District a couple of years ago, and there have been about a half dozen elections in the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District.

Weissmann’s bill would make Colorado’s 52 water conservancy districts operate like other special districts (hospital, fire protection, sanitation, etc.). Directors would circulate petitions to get on the ballot, and if there was only one candidate, no election would be necessary.

Current incumbents would serve out their terms, and then face elections, under the bill.

HB-1195 makes a couple of other changes. Currently, conservancy district directors have to be property owners; in other special districts, they merely have to be residents, and this would become the case for conservancy districts, too.

Also, conservancy district directors are now elected by geographical divisions (based on tributary drainages in the Upper Gunnison, and on school-district boundaries in the Upper Arkansas). Under HB-1195, all directors would be elected at-large by the entire district.

Weissman’s bill was been assigned to the State Affairs Committee, and as of our press time, no hearings had been scheduled.