Proposition DD remains too close to call | CraigDailyPress.com

Proposition DD remains too close to call

Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism

After the first round of votes were tallied Tuesday, it’s still too soon to tell whether Colorado voters have passed a measure that will use taxes from sports betting to fund projects outlined in the Colorado Water Plan.

As of 8:30 p.m., unofficial results showed 49.74 percent of Colorado voters for Proposition DD and 50.26 percent against it.

In Pitkin and Eagle counties, the measure passed with 58 percent of voters in each county supporting the measure.

Voters in Garfield County rejected Proposition DD with 53 percent of voters against it.

If Proposition DD passes, the state will be authorized to collect a 10 percent tax up to $29 million (but probably closer to $15 million) a year from casino’s sports-betting proceeds. The money would go toward funding projects that align with the goals outlined in the water plan, as well as toward meeting interstate obligations such as the Colorado River Compact.

The plan, outlined in a 567-page policy document, does not prescribe or endorse specific projects, but, instead, sets Colorado’s water values, goals and measurable objectives. According to the water plan, there is an estimated funding gap of $100 million per year over 30 years, but Colorado Water Conservation Board officials have said that number is an estimate and not precise.

Some of the projects outlined in the water plan stand in opposition to one another — for example stream restoration projects with an emphasis on environmental health and building or expanding dams and reservoirs that would divert and impound more Colorado River water. Proposition DD funding could go toward any of these.

The funds would be administered by the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a statewide agency charged with managing Colorado’s water supply.

In addition to doling out money from Proposition DD in the form of water-plan grants, the revenue could also be spent to ensure compliance with interstate compacts and to pay water users for temporary and voluntary reductions in consumptive use. That could mean a demand management program — the feasibility of which the state is currently studying — in which agricultural water users would be paid to leave more water in the river.

The measure had received broad support from environmental organizations, agriculture interests, water-conservation districts and even Aspen Skiing Company.

Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism collaborates with The Aspen Times and other Swift Communications newspapers on coverage of rivers and water. For more, go to aspenjournalism.org.