R.J.A., Inc. v. Water Users Association

690 P.2d 823 (1984)

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R.J.A., Inc. v. Water Users Association

Colorado Supreme Court
690 P.2d 823 (1984)

  • Written by Robert Cane, JD

Facts

R.J.A., Incorporated (plaintiff) operated a resort business in Colorado at the headwaters of Tahosa Creek. In the early 1970s, R.J.A. began a project to remove peat moss from a nearby marsh. The peat-moss marsh was about 3,000 years old. R.J.A. sought to remove the peat moss and replace it with a well-drained meadow in order to increase the supply of water by reducing the amount of water that evaporated from the marsh. In 1979, R.J.A. filed an application in the water division of the district court (water court), seeking a decree for a developed water right. R.J.A. claimed that the removal of the marsh significantly decreased the consumptive use of water and resulted in a net gain to the stream that fed Tahosa Creek. R.J.A. asserted that it was entitled to a water right not subject to the priority system established by the Water Right Determination and Administration Act of 1969 (water-rights act). The water court found that the water to which R.J.A. claimed a water right was a tributary to Tahosa Creek and that the water-rights act governed the determination of water rights over such water. The water court held that the reduction of consumptive use of tributary water may not establish a water right independent of the priority system mandated by the water-rights act. R.J.A. appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lohr, J.)

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