Water Law

Water law covers the range from obtaining and maintaining water rights for surface water; securing well permits for the use of groundwater and safeguarding transport of water rights via ditches and easements.

What is a Prior Appropriation?

Prior Appropriation is often summarized as “first in time is first in right.” An appropriation occurs when an individual takes water from a source and puts it to beneficial use such as crop irrigation. The first person to appropriate water from a particular source and get it approved by the Water Courts will have a right to use that water which is superior to the rights of all persons who appropriate water after him.

Once I have a water right can I use it for any purpose?

No. Water rights are specific as to place of use, purpose and amount. Once you have obtained a Water Right you cannot change any of these elements. without applying to the Water Courts for approval of the change. If the Court determines that no other water users will be harmed by the change then they will likely approve your application.

How are water rights governed in Colorado?

Water rights in Colorado are overseen by the Water Courts which work in tandem with the State Engineer’s Office. Water rights in Colorado are governed by the doctrine of Prior Appropriation.

Linda McMillan is one of the few water attorneys practicing in Southern Colorado.

“A farm without water isn’t a farm. Thanks for protecting my legacy.