Colorado water law: ‘The complication is that we don’t explain it’ — Justice Gregory Hobbs

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Here’s an in-depth look at Justice Hobbs’ presentation at last week’s forum hosted by Colorado Livestock Association at Morgan Community College, from Dan Barker writing for the Fort Morgan Times. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

People often talk about how complicated water law is in Colorado, but it is not really that complex. “The complication is that we don’t explain it,” Hobbs said.

There are people concerned about pressures on the water in Colorado who do not understand why it is used the way it is in the state, he said. He often hears that the trouble in Colorado is all those producers growing hay. They think farmers waste water because they see photos of flood irrigation, Hobbs said. They do not understand the whole process of how water works and how it is used, he said. They see flood irrigation and do not realize that much of that water goes back into the rivers, so it is not wasted, Hobbs noted…

The first territorial water law formed in [1861] did not mention anything but agriculture, since mining did not really consume much water, he said. This law provided a right to move water to where it was needed, and created a right of way to allow for ditches to take the water to farms as long as those using it paid for the right of way, Hobbs said. People need to be careful when they talk about private property rights. For instance, a landowner cannot block a person from operating an irrigation ditch. In Colorado, people do not earn the right to water simply because they use it or divert it somewhere. It must be put to beneficial uses, he said.

More water law coverage here and here.

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