Groundwater compact legislation passes unanimously in the House

Snowmelt at 11,000 feet in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains flows towards the San Luis Valley on a recent afternoon. Photo by John Waters

ALAMOSA– SB22-028 “Groundwater Compact Compliance and Sustainability Fund”, which will bring $30 million of one-time American Rescue Plan Act funding to the San Luis Valley that will be used to retire irrigation wells and irrigated acreage, passed the Colorado House of Representatives on Friday.

According to a Friday afternoon email from Senator Cleave Simpson, who sponsored the bill along with Republican Senator Sonnenberg and two bi-partisan sponsors in the House, “SB22-028 passed the House on 3rd reading unanimously a couple of hours ago.”

The website: leg.colorado.gov, a state website that tracks progression of a bill through the entire Colorado legislative process, shows that SB22-028 passed by unanimous, bi-partisan vote through both the Senate and House.

After being introduced in the Senate, the bill was assigned to the Senate Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources – chaired by Democratic Senator Kerry Donovan – followed by referral, unamended, to the floor of the Senate.

The bill then passed in the Senate, unamended and unanimously, on two readings before being referred to the House.

After being introduced in the House, the legislation was assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture, Livestock, & Water where, after passage, it was referred to the House Committee on Appropriations. After passing unanimously in Appropriations, SB22-028 was referred to the House Committee of the Whole. It was then passed, unanimously with an amendment, and then passed on third reading with no further amendments.

This legislative process was officially initiated by first term Senator Simpson and Senator Sonnenberg in mid-February.

Attorney for the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, David Robbins, and Marisa Fricke, Program Manager for Subdistrict No. 1, also testified in support of the bill multiple times before committee.

But Simpson started advocating for this bill in 2021, including meetings with Governor Polis, long before its introduction in the Senate on February 17, 2022. As Simpson previously stated to the Valley Courier, efforts were also supported by Democratic leadership who recognized its importance.

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