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Water Law

Watermarks--Letter from the Editor

This special edition of the Headwaters magazine marks the beginning of a new initiative for the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. In addition to our quarterly Headwaters and our Citizen's Guides on select topics, the Foundation will now publish, from time to time, special editions of the Headwaters that provide a more in-depth focus on a single water issue.

Since the Foundation was established in 2002, it has published twelve Headwaters magazines and six Citizen's Guides on a variety of water related topics. The most widely distributed publication to date is the Citizen's Guide to Colorado Water Law with more than 16,000 copies in circulation. A basic knowledge of Colorado water law is essential to understanding all other water related issues.

Water law is not static. It continuously evolves to meet the changing needs, values, and customs of the citizens of the state. Many of these changes result from new laws developed through the legislative process. Equally important are the interpretations and clarifications of the law by the state's various water courts.

This special edition of Headwaters provides a review of the water decisions of the Colorado Supreme Court over the past decade. It places these decisions in the context of a growing population and changing public values regarding water.The publication shows the complexity of the simple legal principle of ‘first in time, first in right.’ It also demonstrates that a body of law that rests on nearly 150 years of territorial and state law can adapt to our contemporary social needs and interests. Like any set of laws born out of competing interests, its evolution is not without difficulty and adverse consequences. However, the predictability and reliability of water use rights serve as the foundation for all water related decisions affecting current and future Coloradans.

I would like to thank Justice Greg Hobbs for sharing this article with us and for his leadership regarding water and other natural resources for the past thirty-five years.

Don Glaser
Editor and Executive Director

Water Law Resources

Guide to Colorado Water Law explores the basics of Colorado water law--learn how it has developed and how it is applied today. This, CFWE's most popular Citizen's Guide, was authored by Colorado Supreme Court Justice, and CFWE Board Vice President, Gregory Hobbs. Take a look or purchase a copy.


Law Supplement Headwaters magazine a special edition of Headwaters that provides an in-depth look at Colorado water law. Browse the magazine to supplement our Citizen's Guide and your knowledge. View it here

Administration Headwaters magazine read how enforcing the law in our water-scarce state can get tricky and meet the men and women who allocate Colorado's most precious resource. Browse the issue here.

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