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Colorado water rights question

 
Gabi Rivera
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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We are moving back to Colorado Springs and want to buy a small acreage (5 acres) in the Falcon/Peyton area. We will need to have a well dug. However, I heard that having a household well does not allow for irrigation. Is there anybody familiar with this issue? How do you establish a garden and food forest under the local restrictions? I feel like my dream of owning a larger piece of property and growing food on it is not feasible. Large enough properties are not on the municipal water system. Rainwater harvesting is illegal.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1268
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I'm not in Colorado but I am a neighbor in Wyoming. I'm not overly familiar with CO water rights, except that they are very very difficult to get. What I can tell you is that I do have a household well on my acreage and it is limited to 1 acre of irrigation or some odd gallons a month which I'd have to look up because I don't have memorized. So I have 40 acres but can only legally irrigate 1.

Look up the state engineers office and they'd be able to tell ya.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1268
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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http://water.state.co.us/Home/Pages/default.aspx
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1268
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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The Division of Water Resources has several types of well permit application forms to assist you in obtaining a permit to construct a new or replacement well. Using the correct form will greatly assist you in obtaining the documentation you require to proceed with the construction or replacement of a well in a timely fashion.

For additional information, read the Guide to Well Permits, Water Rights, and Water Administration.

First, it is important to know if you are located within one of the following: The Denver Basin, The Denver Basin AND a Designated Ground Water Basin, or A Designated Ground Water Basin .

For residential uses there are generally three types of use, depending on your particular needs and physical land situation.
Form GWS-44 may be used for all these types of residential uses.

The three types of use are:

General Residential With Lawn/Garden Irrigation and Domestic Animal Watering
Livestock Watering Only
Residential Household Use Only

For more information, please see the General Residential or Household Use page. All residential real estate transactions that include a well transfer require a Change of Owner Name/Address form to be completed and existing wells must be registered.

For all other situations and types of uses the forms to use are:

Commercial Wells - Click here to determine correct forms
Dewatering Well
Dewatering System
Gravel Pits
Irrigation, Municipal, Industrial, and Other Large Capacity Wells
Monitoring and Observation Hole (temporary)
Monitoring and Observation Well (permanent)
Recovery/Remediation Well
Registration of an Existing Well (construction prior to 1972)
 
Gabi Rivera
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Thanks, Danielle. I went to the link you provided and found a map that takes me closer to finding out which district applies to my area. I sent them an e-mail and we'll see what they say.

I hope somebody who lives in the area will be able to give me an answer based on actual experiences. I would hate to buy property I am not able to irrigate. Just by looking on a satellite image of the area, there don't seem to be any cultivated areas, which is a bad sign. Most people leave the native grass and keep horses.
 
Jayden Thompson
Posts: 114
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Gabi,
I live in Colorado Springs (moving to Kentucky in a month or two), and I would be very reluctant to start a farm out here. In addition to the ridiculously backwards water rights restrictions, it's getting more and more dry with each passing year. Even collecting rain water with a roof catchment system is technically not allowed without going through the state, although I have no clue how easy that is to get approval since I just did it without permission.

I have heard from other Colorado natives that getting water rights is difficult, limited, and still requires a meter so that you'll be charged. Nevermind that proper use would raise water table levels, increase vegetation, reverse desertification, and smooth out the unpredictable precipitation in the area - the problem is that water rights are over a century old here and the good ol' boys are still claiming rights to them. It's so frustrating to see how much effort in Colorado goes towards running water into streams as quickly as possible, you'd think it's toxic...

So I'd be reluctant because I'd be worried that natural water will get worse, and the restrictions could possibly get worse along with that. But good luck if you do end up coming out this way. It's beautiful, that's for sure.
 
Gabi Rivera
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Dean, I really love the area and will find a way. Sometimes I wonder if I should buy a house in town with municipal water supply and try to grow intensively on a small piece of land. It would be more expensive but at least there is water. I could always do rainwater harvesting illegally as the primary source of irrigation. It would also save the cost of drilling a well and septic.

May I ask if you did rain barrels or simply redirected the flow to be stored in the soil?
 
Jayden Thompson
Posts: 114
Location: Danville, KY (Zone 6b)
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Gabi,
We did both. On the south side of the house where our larger garden is, the previous owner has it redirected to the garden and that worked well. On the north side there was no garden, so I added one and then ran the gutters on that side to a 55-gallon barrel. No one could see it, and frankly here in the suburbs I'm thinking that people either don't garden and wouldn't even know it was illegal to capture the water, or they do garden and would just wink and smile if they saw it. If you're trying to capture all roof runoff, though, you'll probably want something more than 55-gallons since most of the rain falls in a very short amount of time in the spring and summer.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1268
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Gabi Rivera wrote:Dean, I really love the area and will find a way. Sometimes I wonder if I should buy a house in town with municipal water supply and try to grow intensively on a small piece of land. It would be more expensive but at least there is water. I could always do rainwater harvesting illegally as the primary source of irrigation. It would also save the cost of drilling a well and septic.

May I ask if you did rain barrels or simply redirected the flow to be stored in the soil?


I don't think municipal water is the answer either. They will often put water restrictions up in times of drought. We have had years and years where you are allowed to water only on certain days at certain times, anything else is fined. CO is even stricter about water than Wyoming.
 
Gabi Rivera
Posts: 6
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
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Danielle Venegas wrote:
I don't think municipal water is the answer either. They will often put water restrictions up in times of drought. We have had years and years where you are allowed to water only on certain days at certain times, anything else is fined. CO is even stricter about water than Wyoming.


Using rainwater when available and barrels filled with municipal water should allow for watering on the restricted days. I would hope that I could build a system that does not require daily watering once the plants are established. I agree that using municipal water (or well water for that matter) is not sustainable but even geoff lawton irrigates a bit. I am really afraid of using wells because I never had one. Adding the unpredictability of a permit application does not help. I got an answer from the groundwater people but it is vague so I am looking for more clarification. I will post here in case anybody else needs this info.
 
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