Where do we get our water? Yes, you turn on the kitchen tap and viola, there’s water. Seriously where does our precious water originate. Most of Colorado’s water is largely dependent on Colorado’s winter weather, from the mountain snow-melt. Once the snow melts it either streams east toward the Atlantic or West towards the Pacific oceans. Some water is diverted, some replenishes our aquifers and the rest is captured in our reservoirs.
Because most of Colorado’s population is on the east side of the Rockies or Continental Divide, Pacific bound water is transported to the east side reservoirs. Did you know that 90% of Colorado’s water usage is for agriculture! Pipelines have been established to move water through the Continental Divide moving water from the Western Slope to the Front Range.
Have you ever heard the expression “First in time, first in right?” The Arkansas River has long been used as a source of water dating back to the early trappers and traders. During the Colorado Gold Rush of 1850 water was diverted, taken and put to use for hard rock mining and the rules established back then became the basis for the rules used today in Colorado. When water is scarce or the source of water is over appropriated, the oldest rights get theirs first and others may go without. The best water rights are those that date back to the 1800′s.
So, who does water belong to? It belongs to the Public! Water is not attached to the land through or upon which it flows. The administration of water and water rights is done at the state level, Colorado Division of Water Resources, headed by the State Engineer.
The Colorado River, whose water is it? Did you know the Colorado River supplies water to seven (7) states, Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Nevada and Mexico serving 25 million people and irrigation water for 4 million acres of land! If you want to see the water useage in real time, go to USGS of Colorado. The headwaters of the Colorado River are located in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. The Colorado River begins high in Rocky Mountain National Park near Grand Lake and about 85 percent of the Colorado River originates as snow or rain in the mountains.
I don’t want to drown you, (HA HA) with all this information on water and we haven’t even talked about ditch companies and their roles, ground water or wells. Wells were never registered in Colorado until 1957. All wells should be registered and the cost to do so is $100. Properties with wells should have a well permit and ownership must be transferred when the property is sold.
Did you know, without a water right, flowing water of any kind must be allowed to flow without interference including rain off of a roof! Stay tuned for more exciting information on Colorado’s prescious water. Next time you take a drink , think about where your glass of water is really coming from!