H.R. 4510, the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, as amended

H.R. 4510

the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, as amended

Rep. Jared Polis

September 6, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4510, the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act, as amended. H.R. 4510 was introduced on February 9, 2016, by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent on June 15, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4510 directs the Secretary of Agriculture to issue a special use permit to the town of Minturn, Colorado, to preserve the Bolts Ditch headgate for the diversion of water to Bolts Lake, as well as the continued use, upkeep, and repair of the ditch.



Located outside the Holy Cross Wilderness boundary in Colorado, Bolts Lake is an off-stream reservoir that originally served as a fishing and recreation site for the community. The reservoir allows for future renovations as a means to store the town of Minturn’s municipal water and support the town’s municipal water supply as well as any applicable augmentation requirements.[1]

Since 1882, the Bolts Ditch headgate diversion structure and ditch segment have continuously carried water to Bolts Lake. Bolts Ditch is the only physical supply of water that can naturally fill Bolts Lake by gravity instead of a manual pumping process, with the attendant cost and use of energy. However, when it passed the Colorado Wilderness Act in 1980, Congress unintentionally included the existing Bolts Ditch diversion structure and an estimated 450 feet of Bolts Ditch within the Holy Cross Wilderness Area, limiting its use for the nearby community.[2]

In addition to rising concerns with respect to the continued use, upkeep, and repair of the Bolts Ditch headgate and Bolts Ditch segment listed inside the wilderness area, the town of Minturn cannot use Bolts Ditch to fill the lake under its current municipal water rights. Therefore, H.R. 4510 would allow the town to obtain special Congressional permission to access and use Bolts Ditch to fill Bolts Lake under a new agreement pertaining to Minturn’s existing water rights.[3]

According to the bill’s sponsor, this legislation “will ensure that the Town of Minturn is able to utilize an important resource, and do so without compromising the sanctity of the surrounding wilderness areas.”[4]

[1] See House Report 114-689 – at 1.
[2] Id.
[3] See House Report 114-689 – at 1-2.
[4] See Rep. Polis’ Press Release, February 9, 2016.


Based on data provided by the Forest Service, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would increase offsetting receipts from annual fees associated with the authorization by about $150 a year, and therefore pay-as-you-go procedures apply. Enacting the bill would also not affect revenues. CBO estimates that enacting the bill would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.