Officials debating Referendum A in Associated Students of CSU
Senate Chambers on Thursday agreed to disagree, but said that they
hoped to reach a water storage agreement in the future.
Referendum A, due on the Nov. 4 ballot, asks the public to
approve a $2 billion bond for public and private water projects,
with the focus on improving current facilities and building new
water storage across the state of Colorado.
“We really want students to make an educated voting decision and
having state representatives and senators here to discuss it
behooves students,” said Tawnya Ernst, a teaching assistant for the
Land Use Planning class.
The event, hosted by the College of National Resources’
recreation and tourism department and its Land Use Planning class,
brought a crowd of more than 100 students, faculty and community
Kirstine Haagen, a senior family and consumer studies major, has
been studying the referendum and attended the debate in preparation
for a speech class debate.
“I’d like to have a professional perspective on the issue,”
Haagen said. “As a college student I’m not able to have all the
informational resources available to me.”
Rep. Bob McCluskey, an advocate for Referendum A, began the
debate by discussing the importance of Colorado water storage
during times of drought.
“Referendum A is important to the future of Colorado, it is
important to the quality of life and it is important to the
economic situation in the future,” McCluskey said.
Former Colorado Senate President Fred Anderson agreed and said
he wants to change opinions of the referendum that are based on
“It’s a little difficult with what you see on television to make
an educated decision,” Anderson said. “Referendum A is not a blank
check; it’s just a financing tool for the public and private
John Stencel, the president of the Rocky Mountain Farmer’s
Union, and Melinda Kassen, an attorney for Trout Unlimited, joined
the debate as opponents of Referendum A.
“The referendum will lead to cities purchasing water from
agriculture and that could dry up entire communities,” Stencel
said. “Who’s to assure us that the water won’t continue to be used
for growth and not agriculture?”
Kassen argued that adequate water programs exist in Colorado and
the referendum would create debt for unknown projects.
“They want us to believe that there are mystery projects out
there that the water experts across the state haven’t thought of,”
Kassen said. “I just don’t think that’s reasonable.”
In response, McCluskey argued that the referendum will
complement existing water programs and will meet the demands of
population growth to protect Colorado from future droughts by
increasing state water storage.
“We have water that we own and it goes out of our state,”
McCluskey said. “We receive water for three months during the
summer and we have to capture it.”
Kassen did not agree.
“The referendum doesn’t solve the drought,” Kassen said.
“Referendum A isn’t going to fill buckets, you need rain to fill
Regardless of the Referendum A dispute, both sides stated they
would like to find common ground on the water issue.
“I’m not sure that we’ll ever come to an agreement,” Stencel
said. “I’d like it if we could sit down and figure this out and
hopefully someday we will get there.”