Voters in the 15-county Colorado River Water Conservation District turned down a measure to protect the river's mill levy from further cuts, although some headwater counties supported the measure.
Similar measures offered by two Routt County water districts were approved.
The 15-county Referendum 4A was winning in Gunnison, Eagle, Grand and Routt counties late Tuesday night, but the margin wasn't big enough to overcome losses in Garfield and Mesa counties.
In Routt County, the measure won 2,331 to 2,167.
River district spokesperson Chris Treese said the question likely failed in part because of confusion voters may have had that Referendum 4A was similar to the statewide Referendum A seeking $2 billion in revenue bonds for water projects.
Referendum 4A would have protected the levy from cuts caused by TABOR legislation and allowed the district to seek grants from sources other than federal agencies, a method known as "de-Brucing."
Referendums 5A and 5B asked voters for a similar relaxation of TABOR restrictions for the Morrison Creek Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District and the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District.
The proposal for the Morrison Creek Metropolitan Water and Sanitation District passed on a 56-31 vote. The proposal for the Steamboat Lake Water and Sanitation District passed on a 14-5 vote.