The Colorado Water Exchange

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Home Articles Water Basins Links About Us JUDICIAL AUTHORITY - WATER COURT

     The states have differing ways of administering water rights.  Water is plentiful in the East and scarce in the West.  In the western states, the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation is usually the basis for water law in the state constitutions.  Some states require adjudication of water rights in the courts, which is the law in Colorado.  The Division of Water Resources administers the water rights, but the water rights themselves are decreed in court.  Colorado has seven primary water basins, and a water court in each one.  The judge of the water court is a District Judge who handles other civil and criminal cases in the district, but he has also has been given the authority by the State Supreme Court to handle water related issues for the water basin within his judicial district.  All appeals to a ruling of the water judge are taken directly to the State Supreme Court.