DIVISION OF WATER RESOURCES – DECENNIAL ABANDONMENT LISTS BY MARY ELIZABETH GEIGER, GARFIELD & HECHT, P.C.
Water rights are an important property right and are part of an ever-changing landscape. This year, 2020, is an important year for protecting water rights as it is a year that the State of Colorado Division of Water Resources (“DWR”) publishes its decennial abandonment lists for each Water Division in the State. These Water Divisions are set up per the major river basins and here on the Western Slope consist of Water Divisions 4 (Gunnison River), 5 (Colorado River), 6 (Yampa River) and 7 (Dolores River). In drafting these abandonment lists, each Division Engineer reviews their water rights usage records, looking for absolute water rights that have shown long periods of non-use. These water rights are then put on the abandonment lists, which lists were published in early July 2020 and can be found at the Colorado Division of Water Resources. In addition, notice of water rights appearing on these lists will be mailed to the last known owner (per the State’s records) by July 31, 2020. It is important to review these lists to ascertain whether you need to protest the abandonment – in order for a water right to be officially abandoned, the State must prove not only non-use but also the intent to abandon. If no protest is filed within the requisite time period, by July 2021, the water right will be finalized on the abandonment list and submitted to the appropriate Water Court for an order of abandonment. Once this order is entered, the water right cannot be revived. We can assist with reviewing these abandonment lists and navigating this process to protest abandonment.
Please contact Mary Elizabeth Geiger (970-925-1936 ext.813, ) or Nicole Garrimone-Campagna (970-925-1936 ext.811, ) in our water rights practice group if you have questions or need assistance with regard to any water rights matters, including navigating the abandonment list review and protest process.