U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that the state
engineer exceeded his authority in approving regulations governing
wells along the South Platte River, a setback for farmers in their
35-year legal battle over water rights.
The court unanimously supported long-standing water law that
states those with the oldest water rights have the highest priority,
even in a drought.
The ruling was a blow for about 1,500 well owners in northeastern
Colorado who have used water from roughly 4,000 wells for crop
irrigation, municipal supplies and other uses. For some, the wells
are their only source of water.
They still could gain approval to pump water under a bill Gov.
Bill Owens signed into law. The new law allows well users to file
temporary operation plans with the state engineer as long as they
file permanent plans with the state water court by Dec. 31, 2005.
Without the new law and another water law that Owens signed
recently, the ruling would have shut down the wells, said attorney
Mike Shimmin, who represented some of the surface-water users who
filed the original lawsuit.
``The goal of my client was never to shut down wells, just to make
them go through the right process and make sure they're fully
replacing their out-of-priority depletions,'' he said.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.