Water Rights In Colorado Essay

3285 words - 13 pages

Water has long been a controversy in countless places worldwide and Colorado is no exception. The water rights in Colorado involve different stages within the Prior Appropriation Law; the senior and junior water rights. Senior water rights are privileges that were the first to be issued on unappropriated streams in Colorado and are to be filled before the junior water right holders. Junior water rights are similar to senior water rights, but are filled after the senior water holders take their allotted amount (Wolfe Prior Appropriation Law). The water in Colorado is just that; Colorado’s water, owned by the people and restricted by the state. However, Colorado is required by law to send over 30 million acre – feet of water to seven western states (“Missouri River”). An acre – foot is “The quantity of water required to fill one acre with one foot of water and is equivalent to 43,560 cubic feet or 325,850 gallons” (“Missouri River”). The State enforces all water laws in Colorado even though they are not straightforward and are riddled with loopholes. These water laws came into effect “As early as 1879” (Hundley, Jr. 53). In the laws, there are even more constraints and idiosyncrasies including; owning ground water, owning surface water, senior rights and junior rights, and the use and reuse of rainwater or graywater. Water users in Colorado need to familiarize themselves with the laws and regulations involving water in order to receive the allotted water and the reasoning behind that number.
Farmers and ranchers who own water rights should have their water amount filled earlier in order to facilitate themselves with the proper amount of water. They should not be restricted to a smaller prearranged amount of water each year. Water users should keep in mind that they only have a certain amount of water before it completely runs out and is no longer usable. Water usage due to the laws has two distinctive perspectives that have few points in common; the legal perspective and the agricultural perspective. The Prior Appropriation System runs off of a first in time, first in right maxim. Appropriation is defined in Acquiring, Using, and Protecting Water in Colorado as; “The placement of a specific portion of the waters of the state to a beneficial use pursuant to the procedures prescribed by law” (Trout et al 253). It strongly emphasizes the idea of senior and junior water rights. The Colorado Government states that a beneficial use is “Water that must be diverted for a purpose and used beneficially to get a water right” (Wolfe “Water Dictionary”). The agricultural side describes the need for water in particular areas for the benefit of livestock and a lifestyle. One controversy revolves around the collection and reuse of rainwater and graywater. Graywater, as defined in the Colorado state water website, is “Water already used once for showers, laundry, or dishwater” (Wolfe “Rainwater Collection and Graywater Reuse”).
According to John Reid, an executive...

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