Water in Colorado

Since Territorial days, Colorado water rights have been recognized as valuable assets which must be vigilantly protected.  The “business of water” is an important source of value to buyers and sellers – one which requires special expertise. Managing water through acquisition and thoughtful transactions, protection of water quantity and quality, and understanding the system of environmental best practices and regulations are among the wide variety of issues facing the owners of water rights in Colorado. 

Our water rights team:

Dietze and Davis lawyers have successfully represented clients in many complex transactions and litigation relating to water rights, working to resolve a host of water right and water quality issues as part of our overall natural resources practice. The firm’s clients include municipalities and special districts, farmers and ranchers, mutual irrigation ditch companies, financial institutions, developers and a wide array of other water users. The firm has experience representing clients in matters involving water rights acquisition, water rights litigation, sewer and storm drainage discharge requirements and compliance with water quality standards under state and federal law. Our practice also includes significant experience developing and managing hydroelectric power in Colorado and across the Western United States. 

Our water rights and natural resources team brings more than 70 years of practice experience to work for our clients:

Areas of practice:

Our water rights practice encompasses the entire range of issues affecting water right owners in Colorado and across the West:

  • Purchase, sale and leasing of water rights, including interruptible supply contracts
  • Water right portfolio creation and development
  • Water rights title investigation and water title opinions
  • Practice before the Colorado Water Courts in all seven divisions, including coordination of applications for appropriations of tributary and non-tributary water rights, water right change cases, augmentation plans, exchanges, diligence proceedings and abandonment proceedings
  • Monitoring and opposition of water court applications to protect valuable water right decrees
  • Appellate practice before the Colorado Supreme Court (for water matters) and before the Colorado Court of Appeals (for water-related matters)
  • Well permitting and adjudication, including administrative proceedings before the Colorado State Engineer, administrative proceedings before the Colorado Ground Water Commission and issues involving gravel pit operations
  • Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District applications and land inclusions, including the purchase and sale of Colorado Big Thompson Project (CBT) units
  • Analysis of policy and legislation affecting water rights
  • Due diligence of water rights for lenders
  • Ditch and water line easements and rights of way matters
  • Geothermal well and spring protection and development

Our water rights practice features extensive experience with mutual ditch companies:

  • Mutual ditch company creation, corporate governance and shareholder issues
  • Protection and maximization of valuable ditch easement rights
  • Protection for ditch companies in changes of shareholder-owned water rights

In addition, our practice includes issues related to natural resource law and policy affecting water rights, including:

  • National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) compliance
  • Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act compliance, including Section 404 Permits administered by the Army Corps of Engineers
  • Endangered Species Act compliance
  • Fishery and wildlife issues
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund issues
  • Cultural resource law
  • Oil and gas and other types of mineral leases affecting water rights
  • Colorado county-level permits under HB 1041
  • Water quality discharge permitting and stream classification