The challenge with creating new public policy is that there are often unintended consequences. Such is the case with two proposed ballot initiatives (75 and 89) that aim to ban fracking, but would also have a huge impact on the way Colorado manages its water resources. The fallout creates the potential for unprecedented courtroom battles between local counties and municipalities warring over water rights.
The Greeley Tribune explains:
For example, much of the city of Greeley’s water comes from sources in Larimer County, and the approval of the initiatives could allow municipalities in Larimer County to create new rules that might impact how Greeley gets its water.
Agriculture, too, might be impacted, as new rules set in nearby municipalities could change how water is or isn’t used, or is or isn’t delivered, to the irrigation and ditch companies that provide water to farmers and ranchers, according to concerned water officials in Colorado.
The potential conflict between local governments and private water right owners would create such a nightmare of lawsuits throughout the state, that the Colorado Water Congress is challenging the ongoing initiatives in the Colorado Supreme Court.
There is a right way and a wrong way to change public policy, and using Colorado’s constitution to impose vague and far reaching objectives is wrong. If Initiative 75 or 89 become law, no water rights will be safe.