Augmentation Plans are a broad category of water operations designed to increase the supply of water available for beneficial use. Commonly, an augmentation plan authorizes out of priority diversions for beneficial use to the extent that a replacement supply of water is made available to substitute for the otherwise diminished amount of water available to supply other water rights. This allows the junior diversion to operate without injury to senior vested water rights. Augmentation plans allow for flexibility and maximum utilization of water while protecting senior rights in over-appropriated stream systems throughout Colorado. Augmentation Plans must be approved through a decree of the water court. While an application for an augmentation plan is pending before the water court, a substitute water supply plan may allow for operation of the project until the water court approves (decrees) the augmentation plan.
If you are considering using wells to provide water for lawn and garden uses, domestic animals, a subdivision, or another project, you should be aware that in most areas of Colorado you may be unable to get a well permit without first obtaining an augmentation plan. See The Beginner's Guide to Augmentation Plans for Wells (under Informational Guides and Brochures) for a brief introduction to augmentation plans.
Within the Designated Basins, on Colorado’s Eastern Plains, water rights are established by the Colorado Ground Water Commission, rather than the water court. In overappropriated areas of the Designated Basins, Replacement Plans are similar to augmentation plans, in that they allow new junior wells to pump without injury. Evaluations of Replacement Plans are described in the Designated Basins Rules.