June 24, 2017

Colorado Supreme Court: Decree Determining Water Right Only Allows Diversion at Downriver Pump

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Select Energy Services, LLC v. K-LOW, LLC on Monday, May 15, 2017.

Water Law—Change of Water Right—Rules of Water Decree Interpretation—Nature and Extent of Right Acquired.

This appeal from the water court in Water Division No. 1 concerns the nature and extent of a water right following a recent change to its diversion point. The right initially diverted water at a headgate on the South Platte River, but pursuant yo the recently enacted simple change statute, C.R.S. § 37-92-305(3.5), its owner changed that diversion point to a pump farther downstream. Interpreting the decree recognizing the change, the water court concluded it did not include a right to divert water from a ditch historically used to convey the water right. On appeal, the supreme court reached the same conclusion. Because, by its plain language, the decree defining the water right allows its holder to divert water only at the pump downriver from the disputed ditch, and that language is not susceptible to any other reasonable interpretation, the court concluded that the decree does not include a right to divert water from that ditch. The court therefore affirmed the water court’s judgment.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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