cities, even in Colorado, rely on a combination of surface and ground
water wells to meet their needs. Using systems of reservoirs, pipelines
and wells ensures that urban entities can provide an adequate and
constant flow of clean water to their users. These systems were constructed
very early in our state’s history as a response to population increases
and a growing agricultural economy. An example of this process can
be found by reading the early history of Greeley, Colorado. Today,
vast quantities of water are diverted from western slope rivers and
reservoirs for use on the Front Range. But, complex and highly organized
urban water departments do not service landowners on rural land parcels.
rural settings within subdivisions most Colorado landowners rely solely
on domestic wells for their water. In Adams, Arapahoe and Weld counties,
parcels from 3 to 35 acres are usually developed with a single well
per home site. These residential well permits allow only limited outside
watering for lawns or landscape maintenance.
people purchase land that does not have a developed well then they
must go through the state’s Water Engineer’s office. The office offers
consumers a list of approved drilling and pump installation contractors
who, as part of their drilling service, will actually acquire the
proper permits for well construction. The depth and amount of water
produced by these wells is controlled by the geology or rock formations
underlying the area. These aspects have been studied and mapped by
the Water Engineer’s staff and determine how many wells can be permitted
in any given area.
do owners of subdivision size land parcels have irrigation wells for
outside watering needs. The term "irrigation well" refers to wells
used for agricultural purposes and is, again, under the jurisdiction
of the Water Engineer’s office.
by the relatively small amounts of water produced by residential wells
and the limitation of outside watering permitted, some landowners
seek to develop ponds to increase their ability to accomplish outside
watering. In the Midwestern and eastern states where rainfalls and
ground water are both higher, it is a common practice to build a "pit"
reaching into the ground water table. For aesthetic reasons these
pits are often shaped, grassed, and given landscape treatments to
look like natural ponds. The development of such a feature in Colorado
is seldom possible. The water table or the distance from the surface
of the ground to any appreciable water beneath is usually too great
a reach for excavation. And, the state of Colorado considers water
that can be developed by excavation to be an open well, therefore
requiring a permit. A good "rule of thumb" to remember is that if
you have to dig for it, a permit from the Water Engineer’s office
will be required.
Colorado, surface water is any water in any form that flows on the
land surface. This includes rivers and streams, intermittent creeks
or springs, irrigation canals and ditches, rainfall and snow. Historically,
these are the waters first claimed and developed in the state and
fall under the principal of first in time, first in right. Some original
property owners with water rights divide their appropriation when
subdividing their land and include their water rights for the new
landowners under provisions in the state statutes. They will each
have less water than the original total and have junior priority rights.
In times of drought, it is likely that there will not be enough surface
of water by building small dams or other structures may affect the
storage priority rights and capacity of downstream users. Structures
built to hold seasonal waters can constitute a hazard to others if
they fail during intense storms when flash floods occur.
only small structures or diversions can be built to capture rain or
snow water. Information, surveys and designs for this type of small,
seasonal use structure is provided by the Natural Resources Conservation
Service field office staff at no charge.