by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As appearing in the Daily Sentinel

When I open Google or any other search engine, I not only get the search box, but also a host of suggested articles that some algorithm thinks I might care about. I rarely open any of them, but this morning one caught my eye that said, “See the most dangerous water in Colorado.” It turned out to be one of those slide shows, this one 40 pages, each with one picture (and a dozen ads) of some dangerous place for swimming or boating. None of them were in Colorado — that was just the search engine knowing what I am most likely to click on.

There are, in fact, numerous places in Colorado where boating or swimming is dangerous, but others where such recreation is enormously popular. In fact, people have been swimming, rafting, and boating in Colorado rivers since the dawn of time. Only fairly recently has this activity become the subject of political, legal, and now legislative battles.

A handful of environmental industry groups are trying to change Colorado water law, again, this time to provide that “natural features” of rivers can get water rights for recreation. They cite a section of the Roaring Fork River known as the “Hawaii Five-0 wave,” asking the legislature to amend the law to allow such a stream to have a “recreational in-channel diversion” (RICD), water right.