Colorado Revised Statutes Title 37 Water and Irrigation § 37-90-102 Legislative declaration

(1) It is declared that the traditional policy of the state of Colorado, requiring the water resources of this state to be devoted to beneficial use in reasonable amounts through appropriation, is affirmed with respect to the designated groundwaters of this state, as said waters are defined in section 37-90-103(6) .  While the doctrine of prior appropriation is recognized, such doctrine should be modified to permit the full economic development of designated groundwater resources.  Prior appropriations of groundwater should be protected and reasonable groundwater pumping levels maintained, but not to include the maintenance of historical water levels.  All designated groundwaters in this state are therefore declared to be subject to appropriation in the manner defined in this article.

(2) The general assembly finds and declares that the allocation of nontributary groundwater pursuant to statute is based upon the best available evidence at this time.  The general assembly recognizes the unique, finite nature of nontributary groundwater resources outside of designated groundwater basins and declares that such nontributary groundwater shall be devoted to beneficial use in amounts based upon conservation of the resource and protection of vested water rights.  Economic development of this resource shall allow for the reduction of hydrostatic pressure levels and aquifer water levels consistent with the protection of appropriative rights in the natural stream system.  The doctrine of prior appropriation shall not apply to nontributary groundwater.  To continue the development of nontributary groundwater resources consonant with conservation shall be the policy of this state.  Such water shall be allocated as provided in this article upon the basis of ownership of the overlying land.  This policy is a reasonable exercise of the general assembly's plenary power over this resource.


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