Attorney general joins other states in water case

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman announced that her office filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in State of New York v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 17-418. The brief was filed on behalf of the State of Colorado and 10 other western states, and in cooperation with dozens of western water providers. The brief is the latest effort by Colorado in a nearly decade-long battle to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Transfers Rule, a federal regulation that recognizes the right of states to manage “water transfers”—projects that ensure water is available where it is needed most.

Water transfers are critically important, especially in the arid West. Without them, local water providers from Denver to Los Angeles could not deliver essential water supplies for municipal, industrial, and agricultural use. Water transfers are typically government operated and do not introduce pollutants into sources of water. They simply move water from one natural source and transport it for use elsewhere.

EPA’s Water Transfers Rule recognizes that states have always had authority to regulate these activities. Yet a group of litigants, including a coalition of eastern States led by New York, have argued that water transfers should be subject to costly and burdensome regulations under the Clean Water Act. This would be contrary to decades of policy by the EPA and to Congress’ decision to defer to state authority to manage water resources.

“Water is the lifeblood of the West,” said Attorney General Coffman. “We’ve often had to fight to keep our authority to manage and protect this critical natural resource, and Congress has recognized that the regulation of water resources should be close to home. We protect our water and we have many tools to ensure that it is managed in an environmentally responsible way. There is simply no need to require states in the West to jump through additional, costly federal hoops that do nothing to protect our water resources."