Independent Scientific Panel

In order to peer review the findings developed by the CWI Project Team under Tasks 1, 2 and 3 and to address the policy, institutional and administrative objectives specified in HB1278 an independent scientific panel of well-qualified and respected individuals will be convened to deliberate upon and address the questions outlined as the bill objectives. We expect the panel will be comprised of approximately 5 respected scientists/engineers with collective knowledge of groundwater, modeling and the S. Platte Basin to function similarly to a National Academies panel to provide peer review of data and develop hypotheses, conclusions and recommendations in a written report. The panel will specifically address these HB1278 objectives:

  • To evaluate whether current laws and rules that guide water administration in the South Platte river basin achieve the dual goals of protecting senior water rights and maximizing the beneficial use of both surface water and groundwater within the basin;
  • To what extent augmentation plans are preventing injury to other water rights holders or potentially causing over-augmentation of well depletions;
  • Whether additional usage of the alluvial aquifers could be permitted in a manner consistent with protecting senior surface water rights; and
  • Whether, and to what extent, the use of water in the basin could be improved or maximized by affording the state engineer additional authority to administer water rights while ensuring protection of senior surface water rights.

CWI will facilitate meetings in which this small panel of unbiased experts will discuss and carefully consider the data, maps and analyses conducted under Tasks 1, 2 and 3. We envision running this panel in the manner of a National Academies review panel that will ask for expert input and offer opportunity for public input as it reviews the available data and model output. The panel will also be afforded opportunity to conduct executive session if needed. Although CWCB, the Attorney General’s Office and DWR personnel are not envisioned as members of the panel, it will be important to include selected state experts as staff to the panel as appropriate. CWI will be responsible for assisting the Independent Scientific Panel in coming to conclusions and recommendations, including agreement and lack of agreement. Panelists will be provided travel expenses and a modest honorarium for service. Work product: written interim and final reports.