Real Estate Agent with Nicholson and Company

Mean what you write!!     info on a class I took awhile back. Hope this is informative

 Like it or not, Realtors are often the first stop for water resource information during a property transaction.  Colorado is the highest state in the nation and all of the water flows out of the state. There are only two states that happen too, Colorado and Hawaii.

You have to put water to use or you cannot keep the water rights. i.e. Beneficial Use!

A water right is a property right to make beneficial use of a particular amount of water within a specified time. A water right is a special kind of property known as a Usufructuary right  This means we have the right to inherit the resource, will it, sell it, lease it, share it, store it or change it from one se to another. WE DO NOT OWN IT, you only have a right!  This resource stays in the Public Domain under Colorado law and we can not waste it.

Exempt Wells can not ever pump more than 15 gallons a minute. If well was drilled before May 22 1972 grandfathered in! Wells before 1972 Must have complete well records in order to be recorded with the state. Back then wells were not required to be recorded with the state. To get a well drilled you must get a permit fro the Sate Engineers office.  If they do not have the permit number you will need to get it inspected and get specific information.  The State records and spots every well in this state and records it on a map.  If it has been recorded then they can give you the permit number with legal description of the property.

If you are dealing with a well, then go to the health department and get the booklet for guidelines.......................

25 feet......minimum setback

50 feet......animal yard and or barn concrete silo septic tan

100 feet.....leach field, pesticide or fertilizer storage, chemical mixing, loading site, fuel and oil products.

250 feet.....waste lagoon, household wastes dump, manure stockpiles, earthen silage storage

Soils and Contamination

We have soils that are contaminated up to 100 feet, due to our weather, and freezing and thawing soils.


Be aware that there are unlicensed well drilling companies; you need one with a license due to the fact that if someone is killed on the property then the owner of the property is liable. If problems occur then you need to call the board of Examiners Colorado Division of Water Resources, 303-866-3581...... Problems can occur therefore you need a contract with a licensed well drilling company.


To make application for a well, it will cost $480.00 Permit is good for two years, and you can get an extension if you have a good reason for not drilling, and the extension will cost money. You will need a Water Well Permit Application GWS44

Main:  303-886-3581

Fax:     303-866-3589

 Water Right Transfer

Any water right that you do not legally describe will not be transferred.  Each Decree needs to be read and understood. Water Rights have a Name, Description and zoning, it is no different than a piece of property, and you must treat it that way.

When you list a property you should ask if there are any wells on the property, because the owner of the property is responsible. They are responsible for sealing and plugging the well. 

  If someone is selling land to one person and the water rights to another person be sure to know that the person with the water rights has the right to go onto your property at any time.

  When making change of owner, ex at closing you will need to do a change of ownership form and make sure that it is sign and then you the realtor should mail it into the Water Resource Board!

  Don't try to be an expert just follows the simple rules. If you do become an expert then you are liable. Have your attorney draw up a document advising the parties to have tests and inspections performed on the applicable systems by the local health authority and other professionals of your Buyers choosing.

  When buying water rights you need to be sure and get the ditches and the pumps.

In-House Use Permits

There are wells that are only in-house Wells; the well permit only allows the use of water in the house!  Not for horses!   The land could be zoned for horses, but the well permits could be only for houses!  ** SO IMPORTANT TO PULL A COPY OF THE WELL PERMIT TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF WELL YOU HAVE, AND THAT USE OF THAT WELL!

  In the state of Colorado you can have three homes on one well, with written explanation of you will pay for what if the well should go dry etc....

Clauses!!  Example!

  Buyers understand the improvements are not connected to the public water system. Buyer acknowledges that no representation whether oral or written have been made by the Broker or any of their agents pertaining to the depth of the well, type of the well, permitted uses, pumping capacity, water quality, future water supply or the equipment used to supply water to the property The Seller and their Agents are not competent to give opinions on these topics.  Buyer is advised to seek the advice of a competent Well inspector.

  Commission Approved Form!

 Listing firm's well checklist page 39 of GRI book!


Water district court is in Greely.

You must check water rights in your district. We are district 1, South Plate River Basin, located in GREELY. If you feel you were not treated fairly you can go directly to the Supreme Court to state your case.


You will have to supply the permit number


Adjudication water right the best to have.

A Decree is a Deed to water! Decrees do not specify a claimant; Decrees usually do not make reference to actual ownership.  Decrees are awarded to structures, head gates, ditches, reservoirs and wells, you will also need to know the in-stream flow. If a Decree is silent and does not say where the water goes, then this should be a red flag. This can create a law suite; you need to know specifically who is getting the water.  DO NOT COUNT ON TITLE INSURANCE TO HANDLE WATER RIGHTS!!!

Streams, just because a stream flows through your land that you own does don't mean that your animals can drink from that stream.  According to Colorado you are stealing water, and can be sued1 Every Stream in Colorado is over appropriated not one stream is under appropriated. Appropriation: the right to take water from a natural stream or aquifer for beneficial use at a specified rate of flow, either for immediate use or to store for later use.  This I usually confirmed by a water court decree.  Senior water rights are more powerful than anything else. 

Abandonment!  It takes 10 years to lose your water rights, through new law of in stream flow.

You do not transfer water rights by saying and all water rights in the contact; you must put the legal description in for each well and each water right.  There is a law suite to prove it. This law suite is what is responsible for putting the words in the contract, legal description.



Comments (1)


Thanks for the info. I wonder if you have ever heard of a producing water well on one property being sold to another nearby water-poor property?  Or if the water-poor property owner buys the property with a great well, can that water be piped and be diverted?We are in the foothills and within Jefferson County. Thanks in advance for this. John

Mar 24, 2011 01:14 PM