July 17, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Court Considered Three Water Rights Disputes Concerning Two Large Competing Ranching Organizations

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Concerning the Application for Water Rights of Applicants in Moffat County; Vermillion Ranch LP v. Raftopoulos Brothers; Raftopoulos Brothers v. Vermillion Ranch LP on Monday, June 24, 2013.

Conditional Water Rights—Beneficial Use—Anti-Speculation Doctrine—“Can and Will” Standard—CRS § 37-92-305(9)(b)—Reasonable Diligence.

The Supreme Court considered two water rights cases involving Raftopoulos Brothers (Raftopoulos) and Vermillion Ranch Limited Partnership (Vermillion). In Case No. 11SA86, the Court vacated the portions of the water court’s order interpreting the phrase “all other beneficial uses” in 1974 change decrees regarding Raftopoulos’s absolute water rights and determining whether Raftopoulos had abandoned any right to use the decreed water for commercial or industrial purposes. The Court reversed the portion of the water court’s order decreeing Raftopoulos’s requested new conditional water storage rights to the extent the decree permits the water to be used for industrial and commercial purposes. In Case No. 11SA124, the Court reversed the water court’s order granting Vermillion’s application for a finding of reasonable diligence for previously decreed conditional water storage rights and granting Vermillion’s application for a new conditional water storage right.

Summary and full case available here.

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