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Water Digest – May 29

Water rights weekly report for May 22. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The New York Times on May 27 published a guest opinion from an environmental activist concerned about the future of water releases into the Upper Delaware river system in New York’s Catskills. Jeff Skelding of the Friends of the Upper Delaware wrote that “the Upper Delaware is a fragile ecosystem, and now it is threatened by a bitter dispute between New Jersey and New York City over water availability, and how much should be released into the river for the fishery and downstream states from reservoirs that provide water to the city.”

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper on May 21 signed into law Senate Bill 117, aimed at allowing use of water stored in federal reservoirs. Use of water for growing hemp or cannabis from those reservoirs, even by long-time water right holders, has been called into question because, though both are legal to grow in Colorado under state law, they still are considered highly restricted substances under federal law.

What happens when water users sell off their water rights, over a large area? That has been happening, to a degree at least, in southern Colorado’s Arkansas River area. A story by the area’s National Public Radio station noted that “Without many water rights left there, Heimerich says current residents rely heavily on a single correctional facility for access to full-time jobs. He calls Crowley County the poster child of an agricultural community that’s lost much of its water.”

A May report in the Arizona Capitol Times said Governor Doug Ducey plans to increase staffing at the state Department of Water Resources, main in the area of federal water adjudications. That may presage a more aggressive stance by the state on regional water allocations.

The Idaho Water Resource Board has approved spending $109,273 with Ralston Hydraulic Services Inc. of Moscow for the second phase of the Lewiston Regional Deep Aquifer Study.

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