June 19, 2019

SB 13-074: Creating Mechanism to Resolve Ambiguities in Certain Pre-1937 Irrigation Water Right Decrees

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013, Sen. Mary Hodge introduced SB 13-074 – Concerning the Resolution of Ambiguities in Old Water Right Decrees Regarding the Place of Use of Irrigation Water. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Current law requires irrigation water right decrees to specify the acreage on which the water may be used, but some older decrees do not include an acreage limitation. For such decrees, water courts look to the original appropriator’s intent in determining the lawful historical consumptive use of a decreed irrigation water right; however, it is often very difficult to determine the original appropriator’s intent, which has resulted in cases that substantially decrease the acreage that has historically been irrigated by a water right.

The bill creates a mechanism to determine the amount of acreage for an irrigation water right for which the original decree predates 1937 and is unclear about the amount of acreage that may be irrigated under the water right. On Feb. 7, the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Energy Committee approved the unamended bill sent it to the Senate for consideration on 2nd Reading.

Since this summary, the bill was laid over daily for 2nd Reading.

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