The Rodman Law Group: Water Lawyers

The Rodman Law Group works to help our clients in Water Court divisions and assists with applications for new water rights, changes of water uses, ongoing diligence applications for conditional water rights and augmentation plans, as well as opposition to potentially injurious applications filed by other water users and various other associated legal issues involving water rights.

Colorado water laws and related legal matters are varied and complex, often overlapping with other areas of law including real estate, contract and special district law.

The Rodman Law Group has a comprehensive and successful background in many aspects of Colorado water law, including: water rights adjudication and litigation; water court changes of water rights and plans for augmentation and exchange; water rights planning and acquisition; water entity formation; municipal district law and associated representation of various water entities; ground water law; well permitting; water stock acquisition and transfers; water rights title review and more.

In Colorado, water rights are administered according to the legal doctrine of prior appropriation, a priority system based on the date the water right was appropriated (i.e. put to a “beneficial use”). Obtaining and maintaining a water right in that system requires that the water be put to beneficial use and that other users suffer no injury as a result of the new appropriation. Water Courts ultimately determine the quantity, priority, place of use, and type of beneficial use of the water right. The State Engineer oversees the administration, ensuring that water rights are used according to the terms of their respective Water Court decrees. Together, the Water Courts and the State Engineer provide a framework which allows fair and consistent administration of water rights.

Augmentation Plans and Exchanges of Water

A plan for augmentation is a plan by which a water user is able to divert water out-of-priority and offset the impact of his or her water use by replacement with alternate sources of water.

Transfers and Changes of Water Rights

A water right is characterized by a number of traits such as the amount of water that can be used, the type of use to which it can be put, the location where the water can be used, and the point of diversion from the stream. Owners of water rights in Colorado can change the point of diversion, place of use, and type of use of their water rights. To do so, owners must obtain a decree from the Water Court allowing the change. Proceedings in Water Court to change a water right often involve complex technical or legal issues because the applicant must prove that the change will not cause injury to other users.

Groundwater Matters

Because the connection between groundwater and surface streams was not well understood in the early years of Colorado water law, the first attempts to allocate groundwater and to incorporate its use into Colorado’s prior appropriation system fell short of the mark. The understanding of groundwater has grown increasingly sophisticated and the system of administering groundwater has followed suit. As a result, groundwater law has evolved into a complex and geographically-specific area of expertise that The Rodman Law Group assists clients in navigating.

Cannabis Water Rights

Water is essential to the cannabis industry, but it is one of the most complex areas in both the practice of water law and the practice of cannabis law.  Water rights in the American West already reflect a byzantine and specialized area of law. All water that passes through reservoirs or irrigation ditches created through federal funds is governed by Bureau of Reclamation. When federal water mixes with state or locally controlled sources, it is considered “commingled.” This often complicates clients’ already difficult matters. While significant steps affirming legal use of water rights for members of the cannabis industry have been realized, considerable obstacles continue to legally burden our clients. In light of such legal uncertainties, The Rodman Law Group works to help our clients navigate this complex, changing, and constantly evolving territory of law and regulatory administration.

The Rodman Law Group assists clients acquiring, evaluating and adjudicating new water rights, and protecting and perfecting existing water rights. If you have water related issues, The Rodman Law Group offers seasoned insight, guidance, and legal counsel.