IP-6-2004 (March 2004)
Author: J. Craig Green
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For 150 years, Colorado Water Law has been developed with a healthy respect for property rights – protecting the prior rights to water use established by the hard work of those who came before. Most attempts to centralize water resources in Colorado have failed, although there have been repetitive attempts to implement “Soviet style” statewide water planning in Colorado. The drought of 2002 created a new wave of demands on the Colorado General Assembly to “do something” about water. But many of those demands appear to be based on little knowledge about how Colorado water law works. Current attacks on private property water rights include proposed county “tariffs” and other restrictions on water transfers, as well as applications of the “public trust doctrine”, and proposed “anti speculation” restrictions on the use of groundwater not subject to the appropriation doctrine.