Here’s report from Sara Waite writing for the Sterling Journal-Advocate. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:
Yahn explained water rights and how they work. A water right consists of seven items: location, means of diversion, appropriation date, ajudication date, amount — flow or volume (cfs or acre feet), use and other pertinent information. The date of the water right is just one key in determining who gets water when there is a shortage — the other is location. A user with a newer right may lose access to the water if someone with an older water right downstream from them lays claim to what’s available. However, downstream users with newer water rights may still have access to water in the river than those further upstream, as water is returned to the river by the priority user.
Yahn also looked at the state’s growing need for water. He showed a map that depicts how much water leaves the state in an average year, noting that some of that water is obligated to other states downstream. However, he said, there is much more that could be retained by Colorado, especially on the Western Slope. There are storage and pipeline projects in the works that could help offset the dire water shortage that is predicted by 2050, but even if 100 percent of the projects were approved, the state would still need to double its access to water to meet the need. With the permitting process in place to meet environmental concerns, Yahn predicted that maybe 50 percent of the projects would actually be approved.
More Colorado Water 2012 coverage here.