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Actually it flowed to the ocean in the 1980s, when the upstream reservoirs were full.

We are having an interesting new discussion about water rights here in Colorado. As you know, in the western part of the U.S., where it is dry, all water is owned by someone. You cannot (with some exceptions) even have a rain barrel to collect runoff from your roof, because that water is owned by somebody else. This is all part of the 150 year old, complex legal and technical system that allocates the available water to agriculture and domestic use--or for fracking for gas or for processing "oil" shale. It's always been controversial, because the concept of "owning the rain" is fairly alien to conventional thinking.

Colorado has many immigrants from the wet areas of the eastern part of the country, where water is just there for the taking. A group of activists, represented by lawyer Phillip Doe, haw proposed an amendment to our state constitution (which is easy to amend) that would overturn the existing water rights system in favor of a public trust system. The stated goal is to keep the water out of the hands of those who don't deserve it, namely hobby ranchers and the gas and oil industry, but the side effects would be enormous and unpredictable. The idea has been kicking around for a while, but they are now actively trying to get it onto the ballot.

Given the lack of general understanding--even here--of how water is allocated to various uses, this amendment could pass. If it did, things could get interesting pretty fast.

http://cozine.com/2002-june/colorado-water-belongs-to-the-people-of-colorado/

by asdf on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:51:47 AM EST
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