Elbert County: Groundwater 101

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Here’s a look at Colorado water law as it relates to groundwater in Elbert County, from Ashley Dieterle writing for the Elbert County News. From the article:

On April 2, in the Exhibit Hall at the Kiowa Fair Grounds, two members of the Colorado Division of Water Resources explained water rights and well permitting to Elbert County residents. Types of wells, types of ground water and adjudication of water were discussed by Kevin Rein and Keith Vander Horst from the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

All under ground water in Elbert County comes from non-tributary water in the Denver Basin. There are four bedrock aquifers, the Dawson (upper and lower) aquifer, the Denver aquifer, the Arapaho (upper and lower) aquifer and the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. Most questions asked by attendants concerned their own water and whether or not adjudication, obtaining a determination of a water right, was necessary in order to maintain their water without the threat of it being taken away by the state, county or other developers. According to Vander Horst and Rein, the answer is no. Rein said the landowner has a right to the ground water if it has not been adjudicated, which means the water stays attached to the land. “By virtue of land ownership you have the inchoate right so nobody can come and adjudicate and acquire the ground water underlying your land just because you haven’t adjudicated it,” Rein said.

But Rein did mention some benefits to adjudicating ground water. He said the basic outcome of adjudication is the amount of ground water available is quantified and the characteristics are legally identified. After adjudication, the water becomes a vested right, not an inchoate right. “After adjudication that water is much more readily available to sell to interested developers,” he said. “And it becomes an independent property right, which allows you to make the deed to impair property for immediate benefit and allow you more revenue when you sell it.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here, here and here.

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