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Colorado Water Law Amendment (2012)

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The Colorado Water Law Amendment did not make the November 6, 2012 ballot in the state of Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have altered state water laws if enacted by voters. According to reports, the measure's effects would have resulted in the replacement of an appropriation doctrine in the state constitution with a public trust doctrine. The initiative was filed twice, titled Initiative 3 and 45.[1]

One measure, Initiative 3 would implement the public trust doctrine to water in the state. This means that it would state that unappropriated water in natural streams is public property that is to be used by state residents.[2]

The second proposal, Initiative 45 would put limits on "diversions" to protect the state residents' interest in water.[2]


  • Richard Hamilton, a main proponent in the campaign to place the measure on the ballot compared the initiative to someone borrowing another person's car, "If I can borrow your car, and in a couple of weeks from now you say, ‘Hey, Richard, I want my car back,’ and I say, ‘Oh, no, I’m using it,’ what the hell does that have to do with it? That’s Colorado water law. And when you finally convince me to bring the car back to find that I’ve run it into five cars on Interstate 25 and now it’s all messed up...How’s it fair that I first take your car, I won’t return it, and then scream about using my own property, and now I return it and it looks like a wreck?[3]
    • Hamilton continued by saying that state law already says that the public owns Colorado water, and not Colorado. Hamilton maintained that the goal of the initiatives is to alter the law to adopt the proposed public trust doctrine state government affairs to protect the public's ownership interests.[3]


  • According to a resolution by the board of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, "The adoption of either of these initiatives would result in takings of private and public water rights that Coloradans rely on for beneficial uses for health and human safety as well as economic benefit."[3]

Path to the ballot

See also: Colorado signature requirements

Supporters of the measure had until the August 6, 2012 petition drive deadline to collect the required 85,853 signatures needed to place an initiated constitutional amendment on the ballot in the state.

The measure was cleared for circulation by the Colorado Title Review Board.[1]

During the week of April 18, 2012, the Colorado Supreme Court cleared both measures for circulation, stating that they were both single-subject ballot measures.[2]

See also

External links