Colorado Supreme Court Justice Hobbs has written a series of Colorado Water Law updates, published in the University of Denver Water Law Review. The first article was published in Volume 1, Issue 1, in 1997. To provide our readers with the most up-to-date water law information, the editors have periodically updated works previously published in the Water Law Review. The following is an update to Colorado Water Law: An Historical Overview, Appendix – Colorado Water Law: A Synopsis of Statutes and Case Law and was published in the Water Law Review, Volume 2 in 1998.
Chatfield East Well Company, Ltd. v. Chatfield East Property Owners Ass’n
“Waters of the natural stream, including tributary ground water, belong to the public and are subject to use under Colorado’s constitutional prior appropriation doctrine and implementing statutes. Rights of use thereto become perfected property rights upon application to beneficial use. In contrast, the right to use water in designated ground water basins, nontributary water outside of designated ground water basins, or any Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, or Laramie-Fox Hills ground water outside of a designated ground water basin, is governed by the provisions of the Groundwater Management Act. Ground water located in designated basins is subject to a modified system of prior appropriation administered by the ground water commission. Use of nontributary ground water and Denver Basin aquifer water outside of designated ground water basins is subject to the provisions of section 37-90-137(4). Regardless of whether water rights are obtained in accordance with prior appropriation law, or pursuant to the Ground Water Management Act, no person “owns” Colorado’s public water resource as a result of land ownership.”