Green v. Chaffee Ditch Co.
Colorado Supreme Court
371 P.2d 775 (1962)
Siblings Lydia Hoffman Morrison and Milton Coy Hoffman (the Hoffmans) (plaintiffs) owned land along the Cache la Poudre River in Colorado. The Hoffmans had decreed water rights allowing them to divert 16 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water from the river. However, since the decree, the Hoffmans used only 95 acre-feet of water annually, primarily for irrigation of crops with a small amount for domestic use and livestock. This amount translated to approximately 50 percent beneficial use of their water rights. The Hoffmans sought to transfer 8 cfs of their water rights to the City of Fort Collins (plaintiff), which in turn sought to change the location of the water diversion to a point further upstream. Chaffee Ditch Company (Chaffee) (defendant), among others, objected to the proposed transfer and change of diversion point, alleging that it would negatively impact their water rights to draw from the river. The Hoffmans and the city sought a decree from the court allowing the transfer and diversion-point change. The trial court held that although Chaffee had junior water rights to the Hoffmans, any transfer and change of diversion point may not injure junior rights holders. The city could only acquire the 8 cfs the Hoffmans beneficially used, which meant that the Hoffmans, in turn, could no longer divert any water for use on their land. The Hoffmans and the city appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)
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