What is the Value of my Water?

The value of water rights depends on a variety of factors such as priority, storage rights, historical consumptive use, location, and others. Every situation is unique and makes a direct comparison with an alternate water right difficult. Finding recent sales of the same water right is the most helpful but ultimately, water rights are sold on the open market and are worth what a buyer will pay for them. Water Colorado can help you buy or sell water at a fair market price.

Who do I contact regarding the ditch that runs through my property?

Mutual Ditch companies are responsible for ditches.  Contact the President or another representative of the company to answer any questions or concerns you may have.  Water Colorado can assist in contacting a ditch company should you have any difficulty locating a contact.

Who is responsible for maintaining the ditch?

The ditch company is responsible for maintaining the ditch. If a ditch is in need of immediate maintenance, contact the ditch company directly to notify them of the problem. If you are unable to reach a contact or have questions regarding whether a ditch remains active, contact the local water commissioner on how to proceed

Can I build a bridge over the ditch that runs through my property?

Ditch companies must review and approve all proposed crossings of their irrigation ditch. Be aware that ditch companies have the right to access ditches for maintenance and thus may damage or remove approved crossings at the cost of the property owner.

Can I buy water as an investment?

No. Extensive Colorado case law prohibits speculation. Owners found guilty of speculation could lose their water right.

Can I use water from the ditch or water source running through my property?

Only holders of the shares or rights to a ditch or water source may access the water.

How do I place a call for water?

Shareholders of a mutual ditch company should contact the ditch rider. Holders of water rights outside ditch companies should contact the local district water commissioner.

Are Rain Barrels allowed in Colorado?

As of 2016, households in Colorado may collect rainwater in one or two barrels with a storage capacity of up to 110 gallons combined. The water may only be used on site for watering outdoor plants, lawns, and gardens.

What is the difference between a Domestic Well and an Irrigation Well?

A domestic well does not require an adjudicated water right but can only be used for the approved nearby dwelling(s) and may or may not include irrigation for one acre or less of landscaping or providing water for domesticated animals or livestock. An irrigation well can be used to irrigate large parcels of land but typically requires 35 acres or more along with an augmentation plan for drawing the water.

What is an Augmentation Plan?

An augmentation plan is a means of increasing the water supply to allow the person diverting water out of priority a way to replace those out-of-priority depletions. Pooling of water resources, exchanges of water, substitute supplies of water, and development of new supplies can all be means of augmentation.

What is the Prior Appropriation Doctrine?

The Priority Doctrine or Prior Appropriation Doctrine is the basic foundation of Colorado water law. In effect, water in streams is public property and may be diverted for beneficial use. The right to divert water is held in priority, such that the first person to divert the water has the higher (“senior”) right to it, and the latter persons diverting water have the lesser (“junior”) right. This is often expressed in the phrase, “first in time, first in right.”

What other states receive water from Colorado?

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming receive water that originates in Colorado. Mexico also has claim on 1.5 million acre-feet of water from the Colorado River.

Can water rights be separated from the Land?

Yes but not always. Some real property deeds stipulate that the water cannot be sold separately from the land.

Do Water Rights run with the Land?

Not always.  Some water rights might be required to stay within a particular boundary or parcel as expressed on the deed for the property but often water shares can be transferred to another user.

Is surface water and ground water connected?

Not always. Any underground water that is hydraulically connected to a stream system and influence the rate and/or direction of flow on that stream system is known as “tributary ground water.” “Nontributary ground water” refers mainly to the water of the Denver Basin (Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie Fox aquifers) which is on a modified appropriation system. “Designated ground water” is not available as surface water in its natural state and is within the geographic boundaries of the ground water basin. Ground water well permits are issued by the Ground Water Commission.

What is a Dry-Up?

A dry-up covenant is drafted when water rights associated with a parcel of land are sold for a change of use. The covenant demonstrates the historical consumptive use of the water right and those consumptive amounts are transferred to the new user. In turn, the seller agrees to no longer irrigate the land with water from the same system (i.e., “dries-up” the land) in order to prevent any injury to a user or users in that system.

Can I fish in the ditch?

Contact the mutual ditch company directly to determine the legality and obtain approval to fish along a ditch. Not all sections of ditch run along public ground, so be aware of private property boundaries and be courteous to landowners.

Which water commissioner do I need to speak with?

There are 80 water districts in Colorado. Some districts have multiple commissioners and deputy commissioners while some commissioners alone are responsible for multiple districts.  Information on commissioners is available on the Division of Water Resources website. Water Colorado can also assist you in finding the right commissioner to contact.

What District or Basin am I in?

The Division of Water Resources website has maps delineating the districts and basins. Water Colorado can also assist you in finding your district of basin.

What is “Free Water”?

During wet years or times of heavy runoff, a ditch company or water commissioner might allow users to divert excess or “free” water without tapping into their water shares or rights.  Typically this occurs during the high runoff months of May and June

What are my annual assessment fees for my water?

Mutual ditch companies charge annual assessments to pay for the operation and maintenance of the ditch. Check with the company itself to determine what annual assessment fees they impose on their shareholders.

How much does it cost to rent water?

Water is usually rented by the acre-foot and its cost, much like the value of water rights themselves, varies greatly depending on a number of factors. Water Colorado can assist you in renting water or renting out water you own at a fair price.

What do I do if I need additional water?

Aside from simply purchasing more shares of water, users can often acquire additional water by renting from a municipality or other water user. Water Colorado can assist you in renting water at a fair price.

Can I rent water from a water district or municipality?

Water districts or municipalities might offer excess water for nearby users to rent.  Typically they determine these amounts at the beginning of the year so contact them directly to determine their rental fees and requirements.

Who do I contact if my water right is being injured by another user?

If your water right is being injured by another user, contact the appropriate water commissioner.

What is a lateral ditch share?

A lateral ditch provides an additional route for water to travel to a particular property.  A lateral share of stock does not provide any actual water so a user also needs to acquire a share of stock from the primary ditch.

What is a water right versus a share of water stock?

An absolute water right is the right to divert a certain amount of water to be put to beneficial use. A water stock is a share in a mutual ditch company.

What is a Unit vs. a Share?

A “unit” when describing water in Colorado is usually referring to a Colorado-Big Thompson (C-BT) unit which is a share of water managed by Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (more commonly known as “Northern Water”).  A share of stock is associated with a mutual ditch company and often represents a quantity of water per share in acre-feet.  Check with the appropriate ditch company to determine specifics.