Water Rights Abandonment 2020

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The Initial Water Rights Abandonment Lists have been published and are available for review.  Please visit the Water Rights page, under Water Administration Services.

The Division of Water Resources (DWR) released the Decennial Abandonment List of water rights, an important process of Colorado water law and Colorado’s system of administering our state’s water rights.  Every 10 years the Division of Water Resources is required by Colorado law to present a list of water rights that each Division Engineer has determined to meet the criteria of abandonment to the water court. “Abandonment” is defined as the termination of an absolute water right in whole or in part as a result of the intent of the owner to permanently discontinue the use of the water under that water right.

“The Decennial Abandonment is an important feature of Colorado water law that is beneficial to water users by providing more certainty,” said Kevin Rein, State Engineer and Director, Division of Water Resources. “Canceling these rights means that the water users did not use them for a sustained period of time and cannot begin using them again, which provides administrative stability on the stream to the benefit of active water rights.”

The abandonment list is carefully crafted every 10 years by the Division Engineers, who administer water rights in 7 different water basins throughout the state. The list is created by reviewing records of water diversions, conducting site visits, and completing other fact-based research.  After the abandonment list is published, notices are placed in local news outlets and a certified letter is sent to the last-known owner of the water right.

Any person wishing to object to the inclusion of a water right on the initial list may file a statement of objection in writing with the division engineer by July 1, 2021. An objection form is available on DWR’s website.  By December 31, 2021, the Division Engineer will file a revised abandonment list with the water court. Written protests may be submitted to the water court by June 30, 2022. The list of water rights to be abandoned will be finalized by the water court.