Oct 232003
Authors: Christiana Nelson

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

paid advertisements.

“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.”





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