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Charge the state for pumping its water

Letter by Laurence Budd

Water – June 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine

Charge ’em for your services

To the Quillens and Colorado Central Magazine, “The magazine for people that drive slow but think fast”:

First off, a big thanks for the dark sky issue [Hal Walter’s column in the April, 1999, edition]. You published my long letter last year about how I managed to get the blue yard lights removed from a sizable area in Central New Mexico. We have recently moved to Fort Collins, and while the town is beautiful and a mecca for cars, I am sad to say it is already too late sky-wise here. Lots of very bright yard lights, very few stars. We have decided that bright yard lights here are a vestige of the locals’ Scandinavian heritage, “It’s something we’ve always done.”

I hope your article will convince some people in your neck of the woods that stars really are nice. A quote from my article in New Mexico: “Remember when you first moved to the country, and went outside that first night, and said `Hey Honey! Come look at all these stars! This is why we moved!'”

And then right away you put up a big bright blue mercury vapor street light to scare away the flying coyotes.

However, this isn’t what I’m really writing about. I stumbled across a fun-filled Colorado law recently. You are probably already aware of this law, but many of your readers probably aren’t, and they will derive great mirth from this true story.

I install xeric irrigation systems. Many of my customers are very well off, doctors, lawyers, etc., with lavish haciendas. One of my customers has to pump fugitive ditch water out of her basement all growing season, about 500 gallons per day. She decided it was a waste to throw this water away, and so asked the Boulder County Hydrologist if she could use some of that water for drip irrigation.

“Oh no,” said the Hydrologist, “that water belongs to the State of Colorado, as does the rain water falling from your roof, which you may not collect.” (What a nice melodrama this would make.) Well, my customer is one smart cookie, and quickly realized an important fact for all Coloradans — If we are paying for pumps and electricity to pump the State’s water out of our houses or off our land, then shouldn’t we bill the State for the pumps and electricity? Or a fee for providing a reclamation service? Gosh, what an exciting proposition!

I urge anyone and everyone who is pumping the State’s water in order to protect their property promptly prepare a nice big invoice for the State Division of Water Resources in Denver. I think about $3.00 per thousand gallons is reasonable; what we currently pay for water. That means my clever customer could charge around $300 per year for her service. And — perhaps most important — it is illegal for anyone — including the State — to place water on your property without your permission. Have fun!

Laurence Budd

Fort Collins