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Water Planning & Distribution

Colorado's Water Courts

Click the Fluent Water Facts below to learn more about Colorado water law.

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Colorado district courts have the duty of setting water rights priority dates and amounts. These water courts…

  • Set the priority date for water rights decrees, based on the year in which the application is filed and, within that year, the date when the water appropriation was initiated.
  • May not choose between different types of beneficial use when decreeing water rights; they are generally not allowed to deny applications based on public interest or environmental grounds.
  • Review cases of reasonable diligence for conditional water rights, changes of water rights, exchanges and augmentation plans and appeals from certain State or Division Engineer actions, such as enforcement orders and approvals of temporary changes of water rights and substitute supply plans.
  • Have jurisdiction to review cases where State and Division Engineers have refused to enforce reductions or shutdowns of undecreed or junior water rights after a “call” was placed by a senior water right.

In 1969, the Legislature created seven water divisions based on the major watersheds of the state. The water court for each division is headquartered in the following locations:

  • Division 1: Greeley – South Platte River Basin   
  • Division 2: Pueblo – Arkansas River Basin   
  • Division 3: Alamosa – Rio Grande River Basin   
  • Division 4: Montrose - Gunnison, Little Dolores portions of the Dolores River and San Miguel River Basins
  • Division 5: Glenwood Springs – Colorado River Mainstem   
  • Division 6: Steamboat Springs - Yampa, White and North Platte River Basins   
  • Division 7: Durango – San Juan River Basin and portions of the Dolores River,

Each water court publishes a monthly resume of the applications it has received. To learn more about pending water cases by reading the resumes, click the individual water divisions above.

Owners of water rights may file a statement of opposition to any water right application they think might cause injury to their water rights. They must file a statement of opposition within 60 days of when the notice of the application appears in the resume. Colorado law does not generally allow opposition on public interest or environmental grounds.

Water Origin Resources

The Citizen's Guide to Where your Water Comes From explains how weather patterns and aquifers supply the water we use. Learn more about the intricate distribution systems Coloradans have developed to deliver water to our farms and cities.  Flip through the online version or purchase a copy.

Citizen s Guide  4a40f4c93383c

The Citizen's Guide to Colorado's Transbasin Diversions highlights the history, costs and benefits of these controversial water projects, from both an historic and current point of view. Flip through the online version or purchase a copy.

Transbasin Diversions


1750 Humboldt Street, Suite 200
Denver, CO 80218