Big Auger bill would have required Denver Water to tap aquifers under the city |

Big Auger bill would have required Denver Water to tap aquifers under the city

DENVER – Legislators Thursday shot down a water bill that would have required Front Range water suppliers to use local supplies before diverting water from their mountain storage facilities.

State Rep. Carl Miller, a Leadville Democrat, sponsored the bill because he wants Denver water suppliers, notably Denver Water, to tap into the millions of acre-feet of water that lie in four aquifers under the city. Denver Water officials say they have not ruled out such an idea but maintain that water in the aquifers is of poor quality.

Miller even softened the bill – which legislators have nicknamed the Big Auger as a counterpart to another water bill called the Big Straw – to require infrastructure to be installed for national emergencies and drought years. The original bill would have required water interests to begin using the water as their primary water source.

“I think the Western Slope and other water-producing counties have to be very vigilant,” Miller said of the fight to keep mountain water on the Western Slope. “In my opinion, we’re not seeing the cooperation from the Front Range that they want people to think is in progress. It’s not.”

Miller admitted he didn’t think legislators would approve the bill but said he wants to keep the issue in the forefront of legislators’ minds.

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