Protecting Standley Lake is a prudent call

Cross Currents: A column by Bill Christopher
Posted 4/11/19

Who has previously heard of zebra and quagga mussels? How in the world could they be a possible impact to a water reservoir in Colorado designed to hold untreated water serving a population of …

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Protecting Standley Lake is a prudent call


Who has previously heard of zebra and quagga mussels? How in the world could they be a possible impact to a water reservoir in Colorado designed to hold untreated water serving a population of 300,000 people?

And why would motorboats be banned from cruising on the reservoir in question?

Well, you learn something every day they say.

The issue of these mussels has been around for a few years but it seems that the number of documented cases of boaters violating the City of Westminster’s quarantine protocol has alerted city officials.

To be safe and prudent in protecting the water supply in Standley Lake, Westminster officials have imposed an indefinite ban on power boats on the lake as of March 19th.

It’s a prudent call for sure. It is paramount to protect the drinking water supply for the residents and businesses served from the lake. While boating enthusiasts may groan about having to drive farther to a different lake to enjoy boating and water skiing, it is not worth the risk of having the mollusks grow and multiply in the lake.

No power boats on Standley Lake

The recent Westminster Window article about the “Mussel Tussle” described the fresh water mollusks in some detail and the reasons for avoiding the risk of them attaching and clogging water pipes which distribute the untreated water to water treatment plants serving Westminster, Thornton and Northglenn (Federal Heights also receives water from the lake via Westminster’s water treatment plants and distribution system).

In 2018, Westminster sold 483 boating permits allowing power boats on the lake for water skiing, boating and fishing. With the ban, no power boats will be allowed on the lake which will be a “first” in decades.

Not the first issue involving power boats on the lake

The City of Westminster operated boating activity at Standley Lake since the mid-1960’s when the Farmer’s Reservoir and Irrigation Company owned the surface water rights. The city lseased the surface rights and in turn allowed boating activities and camping at the lake.

The issue involving the mollusks is certainly not the first issue involving recreational boating activity at the lake. Many a debate has been held within the city organization over the years about allowing gasoline powered boats leaking hydrocarbons and other contaminants in a designated drinking water reservoir. It always came down to a safe balance of the number of boats allowed on the lake in relationship to the size of the lake.

Thanks Westminster officials for protecting the precious water supply and its infrastructure.

The art of compromise, Blue Wave edition

After the Democrats accomplished the blue wave trifecta last November in Colorado, several editorial writers and some of us op-ed columnists spoke of caution and prudence in how far Democrats might push on various legislative issues and possible consequences.

In particular, gun control was and still is a hot button issue. You will recall it cost two Democrat state legislators their seats in successful recalls a few years ago.

Now, here we are in 2019 and the Red Flag gun legislation is about to be finalized and Governor Polis is very likely to sign the legislation into law.

While I am totally supportive of the general proposition as I have espoused on previous occasions both in 2018 and this year, I would simply observe that some provisions of the proposed law are not only not essential, they may put too many gun-supporters over the top. The art of compromise is so important in life especially in politics and your marriage!

Key changes in new version are unneeded

Here are a few of the key changes from the 2018 bipartisan version, which was killed in committee by three Republicans, compared to the current version.

First, the length of time which the court can remove the guns from a concerned gun owner has been stretched from six months to a year. That change simply seems unnecessary and should be eliminated.

On the other hand, the current version includes the provision of an attorney being provided for the gun owner, and that was not in the 2018 version. That added provision seems like an appropriate enhancement.

Another change pertains to mandating “clear and convincing” evidence before the judge in only the second hearing as spelled out in the 2019 version compared to mandating such a level of evidence in BOTH hearings in the 2018 version. Why wouldn’t you require such a level of evidence in both proceedings?

Responsibility of proof has shifted

Finally, the new version places the responsibility of proof for the gun owner to get his weapons back on the gun owner as compared to the 2018 version which placed the burden on the petitioner, the family member or law enforcement. I would say that placing the burden on the petitioner is simply fair and just.

Anyway, my point is the Democrats in control don’t have to overkill this new law. Let’s avoid another round of attempted recalls.

A dose of reasonableness

Another example of going overboard, is the major rewriting of oil and gas regulations which includes empowering local governments to control such regulations.

As you might suspect, I am a believer in local control as opposed to state mandates. However, this major rewrite and change in direction could well be a tipping point.

I fully support the shift in focus to health and safety over more oil and gas production. Furthermore, I support local determination in setting requirements such as setbacks.

However, there needs to be some reasonable limits or minimums as I have stated before. Finally, I fully support the new direction and make-up given to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Again, my point is one of balance. Let’s not overly burden the oil and gas industry to the point they will find doing business in Colorado to be infeasible. Schools and governmental units need the taxes they generate. Any legislation whether it is local, state or federal, needs to be reasonable. This legislation needs a dose of reasonableness.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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