Water for pot growing eyed by water board
Discussion today will look at issues shrouded in uncertainty
The Pueblo Board of Water Works today will discuss issues surrounding the supply of water to marijuana growers.
The Pueblo City Council has adopted zoning regulations that allow marijuana to be grown within city limits, but not sold. City legal staff is working on how those rules will be written.
Providing water for growers is a different matter, with some questions still unresolved.
While Colorado and Washington state voters legalized marijuana in 2012, it remains a federal crime. Pueblo is affected because it has federal contracts for storage in Lake Pueblo.
Pueblo also has direct flow rights that pass through Pueblo Dam, as well as a contract for connection to the dam.
“We’re trying to evaluate issues that might arise with the Bureau of Reclamation,” said Executive Director Terry Book. “So far, there have been no court cases you can hang your hat on with any certainty.”
There have been requests to provide water to growing operations both within and outside city limits, Book added.
“We just don’t know the answers yet,” he said.
After receiving legal advice prior to the meeting in executive session, the Pueblo water board will convene at 2 p.m. today in the William F. Mattoon Board Room of the Alan Hamel Administration Building at 319 W. Fourth St.
Reclamation still is evaluating how water supply fits in under the Controlled Substances Act, because it provides irrigation water for land in both Washington and Colorado. It’s not know what the decision will be or when it will be reached, said Peter Soeth, Reclamation spokesman in Denver.
The state Division of Water Resources has taken the position so far that one type of crop is the same as any other, but also is awaiting the decision on federal policy.
Another Pueblo County water provider, the St. Charles Mesa Water District, has already banned use of its water to grow marijuana.
Two Rivers Water & Farming Co. has formed a subsidiary called GrowCo that will use some of its privately held water rights for marijuana growing.
Pueblo West and the Bessemer Ditch have not adopted rules prohibiting water use by marijuana growers.