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Our Team includes a specialized water law attorney who has nearly two decades of experience in water law matters encompassing both private practice and state government service. We will provide you with the support and guidance you need regarding Colorado water law and related property rights, real estate transactions, water litigation matters, title research, due diligence and administrative law and policies, and insight into Colorado water politics.
Water law in Colorado is a specialized area of practice. Colorado is the only state that has specialized water courts, which are located in seven different parts of the state.
Since most types of water rights can be severed and sold separately from the land where they were originally tied to, a purchaser of water rights should perform due diligence to determine whether a water right being offered for sale alone or as part of a land transaction is still owned in whole or in part by the seller. Anyone acquiring water rights also should evaluate whether such water rights are valuable for their intended use. In particular, if one intends to use the purchased water right for a different use than the current use right, he or she would have to go through a water court application process to legally use that new water right, and there is no guarantee that the new use will be granted.
Case-in-point, some purchasers of land also buy an accompanying water right, but the water right has been deemed by the state to have been abandoned for lack of use. So, the price paid for the water right is useless. To make matters worse, often the amount paid for the water right far exceeds the cost paid for the land. Anyone purchasing water rights should be sure to consult with a water rights attorney to ensure that proper due diligence is done with respect to the water rights prior to purchase. Interstate and federal laws can also be factors when adjudicating and protecting water rights and should be considered.
Our firm can help you with water-related matters, such as:
· Preparing and negotiating water right contracts and other transactional documents
· Experienced Representation in water court and agency administrative processes
· Determining water right implications in real estate transactions
· Developing and adjudicating augmentation plans and exchanges
· Water rights title research and due diligence
· Analysis of historical consumptive use of water rights
· Obtaining new water rights
· Evaluating water rights
· Developing water rights
· Acquiring water rights
· Changing water rights
· Protecting water rights
· Protecting land and easements
· Finding and retaining water engineers and water development experts
Colorado has a unique history of water law and water rights based on laws originally enacted at or before statehood. Colorado water rights are also subject to state agency administration and regulations by the Colorado State Engineers’ Office and the Colorado Ground Water Commission, and more frequently in recent years by increased oversight and involvement of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. In the last decade there have been increasing policy and political changes to water right laws, regulations and policies as a result of the 2013 Draft Colorado State Water Plan, which continues to be further developed. Water rights and the uses of those rights are also subject to unplanned changes at times due to natural events such as drought, floods and fires that can change the courses of streams and ditches and also cause fluctuations in underground water aquifers. Colorado also continues to grow its population at record numbers, creating increasing demands on municipalities, cities, towns and residential and commercial developments to obtain new or changed water rights for their projects.