We would like to congratulate and welcome the following Staff Editors to Volume 18 of the Water Law Review.

Christopher Ainscough

Blaine Bengtson

Timothy Berrier

Aubrey Bertram

Cody Cassady

Ronald Colwell

Neillie Fields

Parker Fulton

Victoria Hambley

Daphne Hamilton

Matthew Kilby

Molly Kokesh

Dewitt Mayfield

Robert Montgomery

Gregory Palsbo

William Tilton

Bruce Walters

Kobi Webb

Kylie Wyse


The University of Denver Water Law Review presents:

Fall Candidacy

Join the Water Law Review for Fall Candidacy Information Sessions held in the Frank H. Ricketson Jr. Law Building, Room 170.

Thursday, 8/21 at 4:30pm

Friday, 8/22 at 12:00pm

Monday, 8/25 at 12:00pm

Tuesday, 8/26 at 4:30pm

The Water  Law Review will also have  a table at Derby Days on Saturday, 8/23 from 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Fall Candidacy beings on August 29th.


For more information contact: 

Davis Wert, Editor-in-Chief, wwert15@law.du.edu

Aaron Brunskill, Managing Editor, abrunskill15@law.du.edu

Gina Tincher, Managing Editor, gtincher15@law.du.edu


The Water Law Review is proud to announce the recently elected Editorial Board for Volume 18!
Editor-in-Chief - Davis Wert
Managing Editors – Aaron Brunskill and Gina Tincher
Articles Editors – Meghan Leemon, Edgar Barraza, Garrett Davey, Autumn Aspen, Ashley Novander, and Emily Miller
Court Reports Editors – Ashley Basta and Dale Ratliff
Business Editor – Chris Butler
Symposium Editor – Emily Dowd
Production Editor - Jen Najjar
Online Content Editor – Allison Robinette
Sources Editor – Lauren Hammond

The Water Law Review is pleased to announce the addition of a new Advisory Board member, Mr. Stephen H. Leonhardt, Esq.

Mr. Leonhardt is a shareholder with the law firm of Burns, Figa & Will, P.C., in Greenwood Village.  Before joining Burns, Figa & Will, P.C., Mr. Leonhardt practiced law with Fairfield and Woods, P.C., in Denver from 1985 to 2002. He works primarily in the area of water law, as well as environmental and governmental law and related litigation, appeals, and transactions.  Mr. Leonhardt represents public agencies and private parties on a variety of water and governmental matters. He has represented clients in hundreds of water court proceedings. He is an active member of the Colorado Water Congress and has represented the Water Congress and other clients in legal proceedings involving proposed ballot initiatives in Colorado.

Mr. Leonhardt grew up in Colorado Springs, and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis (B.S. with honors in Civil Engineering, 1982) and Stanford Law School (J.D., 1985). He has spoken and written articles on water law issues and on the initiative and referendum process in Colorado. He co-authored The Public Trust Doctrine: What It Is, Where It Came From, And Why Colorado Does Not (And Should Not) Have One, 16 U. Denv. Water L. Rev. 48 (2012), and a similar 1994 article. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for Water Law since 2010. Mr. Leonhardt was a member of the Ethics Committee of the Colorado Bar Association from 1988 to 1996 and lectures frequently on issues of legal ethics in water law practice. He enjoys playing piano, hiking, fishing, travel, history, and baseball.

The Advisory Board is an invaluable source of support and guidance for the journal, and the staff and Editorial Board of the Water Law Review are excited to have a water professional of Mr. Leonhardt’s caliber join the ranks.

Please join us in welcoming Mr. Leonhardt to the Water Law Review Advisory Board.


Please join me in congratulating the Volume 17 Editorial Board of the Water Law Review!
Editor-in-Chief - Everette (Rob) Bullard
Managing Editors – Jenna Anderson and Aubrey Markson
Articles Editors – Natalia Schissler, Ashley Jackson, Chris Stork, Aaron Brunskill, and Koley Borchard
Court Reports Editors – Davis Wert and Chris Butler
Business Editor – Sarah McGrath
Symposium Editor – Chris Stevens
Production Editor - Zander Louden
Online Content Editor – Andy McFadden

The Water Law Review is pleased to announce the addition of a new Advisory Board Member, Mr. Jason Turner, Esq. of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

Mr. Turner grew up in upstate New York and attended Westminster Choir College in Princeton N.J., a small music conservatory, for four years (1990-1994).  He then received a Bachelor’s degree in History from Rutgers University (2000) and his law degree from the University of Denver College of Law in 2004. Prior to law school, Mr. Turner worked in the wine industry in New York, New Jersey, and Oregon. Prior to taking his position with the River District, he was with the law firm of White & Jankowski in Denver, where he represented public and private clients in all manner of water rights transactions and water court litigation. He became Associate Counsel for the Colorado River Water Conservation District in 2008.

Mr. Turner also served on the Water Law Review while attending DU LawHe recalls that his favorite part of serving on the Journal was his interactions with the other editors and staff, many of whom he remains close with today. The Water Law Review has changed since his graduation in 2004, and Mr. Turner believes that one of the most positive changes he has seen is the fact that the Editorial Board and staff of the Water Law Review are reaching out and better utilizing its Advisory Board members.

Mr. Turner said that he first became interested in water law from his experiences in the law school classroom. “We had a brief section in my first year Real Property class on water rights in Colorado which I found very interesting; after that it became my focus.” He said, “I also had the great pleasure of taking water law at DU with Professor Emeritus John A. Carver, Jr. which solidified my interest in the practice.”

Allison Altaras, Volume 16 Editor-in-Chief of the Water Law Review, remarked “We are very fortunate to have Jason on our Advisory Board.  His personal familiarity with the Journal’s work combined with his West Slope perspective adds even greater depth to the expertise of our Advisory Board.”

Outside of work, Mr. Turner spends time with is wife Sonya and their two sons, Alden and Chapin. His favorite outdoor activities include trail running, mountain biking, back country skiing, and fly fishing in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Please join us in welcoming Jason Turner to the Water Law Review Advisory Board.


The Water Law Review is excited to be publishing the following scholarly articles in Volume 16, Issue 1 (fall).

Opening the Floodgates and Draining the Great Lakes One Bottle at a Time: How Privatizing Water Resources Threatens the Great Lakes
Rhonda L. Ross

Water, Oil, and Gas: A Legal and Technical Framework
Kent Holsinger and Peter Lemke

Interpreting Water Conservation Standards in Waukesha, Wisconsin: A Local Internalization of International Norms?
Sarah E. Sharp

The diversion exception to the Great Lakes Compact—and its requisite conservation plan—is undergoing its first true test in the form of its inaugural diversion applicant: the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin.  The purpose of this Article is twofold.  First, to describe the process through which Waukesha committed to and devised a conservation plan in response to norms that were developed through the multi-lateral processes of state and province parties to the Great Lakes Compact.  Second, to analyze how the process through which Waukesha developed its plan fits within the theory of transnational, or transboundary, legal process.

To achieve these aims, this Article will provide an overview of Waukesha’s proposed water conservation plan and briefly describe transnational legal process theory.  Next, it will introduce alternative approaches to water conservation employed around the globe.  Finally, it will analyze Waukesha’s proposed plan in light of the other conservation approaches to illustrate how this ostensibly domestic process transcends geographic boundaries and the role it plays in the international conversation about water conservation norms.

The Public Trust Doctrine: What it is, Where it Came From, and Why Colorado Doesn’t (and Shouldn’t) Have One
Stephen H. Leonhardt and Jessica J. Spuhler

A ballot initiative was proposed in 2012 that would have adopted, by constitutional amendment, a “public trust doctrine” for all water in Colorado.  Since 1994, Richard Hamilton and others have proposed a series of similar initiatives to add a public trust doctrine to the state’s constitution.  Several other states, building on common law and state constitutions, have recognized a public trust doctrine (at least in its limited traditional form), and some (most notably California) have extended it as a limitation on water rights.  Colorado, however, has held that its constitutional provisions on water are inconsistent with such a doctrine.

This article reviews the roots and evolution of the public trust doctrine under common law, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of the doctrine as a question of state law (most recently in the 2012 PPL Montana decision).  It discusses the Colorado Supreme Court’s rejection of the doctrine as inconsistent with legally established water appropriation rights, and the contrasting expansion of the doctrine in some other western states to encompass new elements and uses, including its application to limit water rights.  The article concludes by examining the proposed Colorado public trust ballot initiatives in this framework, including the question of “takings” of water rights and riparian landowners’ rights when such a doctrine is newly applied.

Reconciling Water Law and Economic Efficiency in Colorado Water Administration
Charles W. Howe

SUMMARY: Colorado water law has proven to be adaptable over time as supply and demand conditions have changed. Still, administration of our appropriations (priority) doctrine can result in economically  inefficient patterns of water use. The enforcement of priorities on the South Platte River in 2006 resulted in shutting down 400 highly productive  (but junior)irrigation wells and curtailment of diversions by upstream urban areas. The economic costs of enforcing priorities clearly exceeded any benefits to the parties who put the call on the river. How could situations like this exist  in the presence of active water markets  that should be expected to shift the more senior rights into the more productive uses?

For active water markets to be economically efficient in reconciling such problems, at least two conditions must exist: (a) costs resulting from the transfer process  (transaction costs)must  be kept low and (b) the legal framework must  allow a wide  and imaginative range of transactions to take place, i.e the market must have sufficient “ scope”.  In Colorado, transaction costs remain high because required water court review processes are costly and time consuming  and because  excessive and inconsistent application of the “anti-speculation” doctrine  limits water market scope.

This article concentrates on problems with the anti-speculation doctrine and the closely-linked issue of “beneficial use.”  The purchase of water rights to be packaged and held for future sale to large buyers has been found to be speculative and non-beneficial, resulting in a “chicken and egg” problem in which sellers can’t apply for change in use without a definite buyer but  also in which buyers won’t commit without assurance of change in use. At the same time, some egregious types of speculation  continue to be permitted under  State water law.

Increased efficacy of the water court review process and consistent definition and monitoring of speculation are needed.  In addition, increased flexibility in the allocation of supplies should be enhanced through the adoption of new forms of water transfer institutions such as water banks, land fallowing   and quick “drought lease-outs.”