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What You Don’t Know About Water in Colorado

Posted by Susanna Haynie on April 15, 2013
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Colorado Water Rules Law

Colorado is a very dry state, we don’t get a lot of precipitation. We also have very low humidity, resulting in the loss of large amounts of this precip to evaporation.  Is it any surprise that water is very tightly regulated in our state?

15 things, you probably didn’t know about water in Colorado:

1.    Within city limits I cannot collect water from my rooftop. If I have a well and do not live near a central water supply, I may be able to apply for  a “roof collection permit” .

2.    “Water belongs to the people [in Colorado].”  – “First come, first use” The water law of Prior Appropriation is applied in our state.  You lay claim by diverting an unclaimed or unappropriated body of water, then properly register it to receive a decree and bingo it’s yours.

3.    Your neighbor could rightfully build his ditch or waterline across your property and you really can’t do anything about it: There is official ditch ownership!!

4     Ditches are protected by law.

5.    4 major rivers headwater in Colorado: Colorado, Arkansas, Platte, Rio Grande – however we really don’t own all they water they carry.

6.    Any evaporative surface needs a permit. If you wondered: Yes, your pond needs a permit.

7.    A list of all water rights is issued every 4 years “Water Rights Tabulation”

8.    If you don’t use your water, you might lose it. An abandonment list  comes out every 10 years.

9.    Water rights are conveyed by deed just like real estate.

10.  Water rights can be sold separately and with only few stipulations anyone can acquire the rights to it.

11.  Water rights on a property might worth more than the property itself.

12.  If you have a well, you might be allowed to only use it for domestic use (in your home only – not to water your garden i.e.)

13.  Might seem like a no brainer to keep your well away from your leach field, however, it’s always better to check when you are considering to purchase a house that is NOT connected to municipal sewer system. Your leach field needs to remain 100 ft away from your well.

14.  There are lawyers that specialize ONLY in water law.

15.  Water is HUGE business, you might want to consider it a new career?

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