In previous posts about acquiring water rights, we talked about the need to overcome objections to augmentation plans or changes of use. Now that you have acquired your water rights, it is you who join the ranks of water users who may find the need to raise objections. Protecting your water rights depends on knowing where to look for and what to do when a potential water court ruling or another user’s action may injure your water rights. Colorado water users have two months after the end of the month when an application is filed to file a statement of opposition to said application, so time is of the essence.
Water courts in each division publish water right applications every month in what is called the Water Resume. These resumes are published online but also in newspapers and mailed to potential objectors (especially real property owners whose property would be affected). Residents can also request copies of the water resume from the court itself. Applicants for water rights are required by law to directly notify landowners who may be affected by the application. Similarly, water users filing objections must directly provide all parties involved with copies of the documents supporting the opposition. The burden of proof is on the applicant to prove the application is entitled to approval.
Groundwater users in designated basins can find out about well permit applications through the Ground Water Commission’s publications. The best way to read those publications is to subscribe to the groundwater list through the Division of Water Resources’ notification lists.
Just as there are fees associated with water applications, there are fees charged for filing opposition. The services of a water attorney are usually recommended. We at Water Colorado maintain a list of recommended water professionals so call us today if you are in need of assistance.
Read your Division’s water resumes: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Courts/Water/Index.cfm
Get on the DWR’s notification lists: https://dwr.colorado.gov/public-information/notification-lists
Find the various Water Court forms: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Forms/Forms_List.cfm?Form_Type_ID=10
Sources and Further Reading:
Guide To Colorado Well Permits, Water Rights, and Water Administration. State of Colorado Department of Natural Resources Division of Water Resources, 2012, https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/wellpermitguide_1.pdf.
Accessed 21 April 2021.
Jones, P. Andrew, and Tom Cech. Colorado Water Law for Non-Lawyers. University Press of Colorado, 2009.
Non-Attorney’s Guide To Colorado Water Courts. Water Court Committee of the Colorado Supreme Court, 2014, https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Water_Courts/FINAL%20Non-Attorneys%20Guide%20to%20Colorado%20Water%20Courts.pdf.
Accessed 21 April 2021.
Trout, Robert V. et al. Acquiring, Using, and Protecting Water in Colorado. Bradford Publishing Company, 2004.