Walsenburg Water Rights

A Bit About Our ​​Water Rights

Water rights in Colorado are unique when compared to other parts of the United States. The use of water in this state is governed by what is known as the "Prior Appropriation System". This system of water allocation controls who uses how much water, the types of uses allowed, and when those waters can be used. The first person to appropriate water and apply that water to use has the first right to use that water within a particular stream system. This person (after receiving a court decree verifying their priority status) then becomes the senior water right holder on the stream, and that water right must be satisfied before any other water rights can be fulfilled.

Walsenburg established significant water rights early and has continued to acquire them. These wise acquisitions by early decision makers has ensured Walsenburg enough water to serve significant future growth. 

The City continues to expand and strengthen its municipal supply system to serve its current and future customers. Walsenburg’s long-term water supply and demand planning for 2015-2065 modeled key attributes of the City’s water supply system to determine its ability to meet future demand. The recent average water demand of 900 acre-feet per year is expected to more than double to 2,020 acre-feet per year by 2065. Analysis shows that City supplies are adequate to meet these projected demands but modelling indicates that during a prolonged drought excessive reservoir drawdown could occur. This is a particular concern because most of the City’s reservoirs are multi-purpose for both the municipal water supply and recreational purposes.

Surface Water

The Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR) administers the waters of the state and Colorado's water sharing agreements with other states. In order to control water effectively, a satellite monitoring system of gages on lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams has been set up throughout the state.

State Monitoring System

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) represents each major water basin, Denver and other state agencies in a joint effort to use water wisely and protect water for future generations. The CWCB is responsible for the appropriation, acquisition, protection and monitoring of instream flow (ISF) through the Instream Flow Program and natural lake level water rights to preserve and improve the natural environment to a reasonable degree.

Cucharas River Surface Water Conditions

Ground Water

Ground Water administration and enforcement is one of the primary responsibilities of the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR), led by the State Engineer. By law, every new well in the state that diverts ground water must have a well permit. To obtain a permit, a person must file an application for approval of a permit with the State Engineer.

Drought Planning

​Drought is a common natural phenomenon in Colorado and can significantly reduce available municipal water supplies. It is imperative for municipal water providers throughout the state to anticipate and plan for droughts. The main objective is to preserve essential public services and minimize the adverse effects of a water supply emergency on public health and safety, economic activity, environmental resources, and individual lifestyles.

The City of Walsenburg has established protocols establishing Water Conservation Measures to maintain adequate water supplies for current and future fire protection and basic domestic needs. (see Ordinance No, 1117)

References

Water Plans

Surface Water

Ground Water

Drought Planning