With offices in Grand Junction and Durango, Robert S. McCormick, Attorney at Law handles water law issues, including water rights dispute resolution, throughout Colorado. Since opening in 1983, my firm has assisted many individuals and companies with matters relating to water rights transactions and ownership. The natural landscape of Colorado and the state’s limited annual precipitation makes water a precious resource for many people who live and do business in the state. Accordingly, water rights are valuable and worthy of strong protection.
States on the East Coast tend to issue riparian rights or littoral rights to property owners whose land borders a body of water. A property owner with riparian rights has the right to use flowing water that borders his or her property. A landowner with littoral rights has the right to use water off the shore of the ocean or lake bordering their property.
Colorado uses neither riparian nor littoral rights. Instead, the state has its own system of laws governing water rights and usage. Established in the 1860s, The Colorado Doctrine encompasses the main tenets of Colorado’s water laws. These tenets are:
The state’s prior appropriation system established the “first in time, first in right” rule. This holds that the first person or entity to file for ownership of water rights from a particular water source, to be diverted and applied to a beneficial use, is given senior rights. Applicants who file subsequent claims may be given junior rights. The senior owner is entitled to exhaust their ownership portion of the water source before any junior owner can access their own share of the water source.
With most of Colorado’s water resources concentrated in the state’s West Slope while most of the population concentrated in the East Slope, water is a valuable natural resource. I help landowners and consumers with direct-flow rights and storage rights safeguard their ownership stakes and respond to ownership challenges.
Water rights are issued by Colorado Water Courts. Water Courts also oversee water use and administration, and adjudicate disputes over water rights claims.
Rights may be sold, leased or abandoned. Presumption of automatic abandonment of a water right occurs when an owner fails to use their right to access available water for a beneficial purpose for at least 10 years.
I assist with disputes between senior and junior rights owners, representing my clients during settlement negotiations and appearances in Water Court. I also draft and review contacts for the purchase and lease of water rights, and help clients to fight presumptions of abandoned water rights. I possess the experience and breadth of knowledge to develop a strategy suited to your needs no matter what type of water rights issue you face.
Robert S. McCormick, Attorney at Law in Grand Junction and Durango, Colorado helps clients assert and defend their water rights, and works to secure fair terms for transactions. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 833-880-7192 or contact me online.