THE SEVERE DROUGHT that has affected parts of the US western has prompted Colorado legislators to approve the raising of US$10B for the construction of new reservoirs. Lawmakers say that rehabilitating and expanding existing dams could boost water storage by 308Mm3 a year.

This new reservoir financing proposal would give the Colorado Water Conservation Board authority to evaluate new reservoir proposals and to qualify them for a bond financing programme. The bonds would be repaid by water districts or cities using the water, with money coming from sources such as tap fees and water sales.

Proponents have hailed the bill as the first major water legislation in Colorado for 100 years. But environmentalists and others are harshly critical of the bill, saying it’s too large in scope, favours expensive construction over conservation projects, and hasn’t had enough public review.