U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a ruling
that allows the state engineer to set limits on pumping groundwater,
a key issue for farmers around the state who are struggling through
The ruling comes in a case that involves about 1,000 well owners
in the South Platte River Basin and it means they can continue to
pump groundwater as they long as they replace it.
The court upheld a ruling that the state engineer can approve
augmentation plans and set limits, even when there is no evidence
well owners are violating water rights.
State law requires well owners to submit augmentation plans
outlining how they expect to restore water to the river basin after
they use it on their land.
The Harmony Ditch Co. and others appealed the ruling to the
Supreme Court for review of the water court's decree approving an
application for an augmentation plan that was filed by the Central
Colorado Water Conservancy District.
The water court, in its decree, imposed a curtailment against the
well owners to limit the amount of water that could be pumped if they
didn't own the water rights.
Harmony Ditch said the water court erred, arguing that curtailment
of out-of-priority diversions is authorized only when the
augmentation plan is not being operated in compliance with other
terms and conditions of the decree.
The state's high court disagreed.
"That's good, because that finished the process. We can move on.
By winning in court, we don't have to fight the legal process," said
Greg Hertzke, water acquisitions manager for the Central Colorado
Water Conservancy District.
A spokesman for Harmony Ditch did not return a call seeking
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