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Animas River Water Rights

Water users upstream of the City of Durango’s proposed water park in the Animas River drainage may obtain water rights that have priority over the recreational in-channel diversion (RICD) water right obtained by the City in 2007.

Four water court cases make it possible for individuals to perfect water rights after the creation of the Durango RICD and avoid a “call” on their water by the RICD in the event of a shortage of water.  Water users still need to obtain a decree for their water right from the Division 7 Water Court as with any other water right.

La Plata County Water Right (06CW99) 

In Case No. 06CW99, La Plata County holds a conditional water right to deplete up to 6 cfs on the Animas River mainstem, 1 cfs on Junction Creek and 2 cfs on Lightner Creek of which portions may be decreed to users as absolute and senior to the RICD after being developed and put to use.  The decree in 06CW99 specifies uses and accompanying amounts which are eligible for receiving a portion of the water right.  Applications may accompany land use applications, or may be submitted to receive a water right separate from the land use process.  Upon receiving County approval, the approved portion of the 06CW99 conditional water right will be deeded to the water user with the expectation that the water right will be confirmed by decree in water court.  The service area identified in Case No. 06CW99 includes the Animas Valley planning district in La Plata County upstream of the RICD.

Joint La Plata County and SWCD Water Right (06CW127) 

In Case No. 06CW127, La Plata County and the Southwestern Water Conservation District (“SWCD”) obtained a decree for a conditional water right with depletive flow rates ranging from 20 to 40 cfs depending on the time of year. Increments of this water right may be decreed to users as absolute and senior to the RICD.  The decree in 06CW127 specifies uses and accompanying amounts which are eligible for receiving a portion of the water right.  A user must submit a Notice of Intent To Make Absolute form to the County and SWCD to specify anticipated depletive amounts and intended use. See the step-by-step process below. The user will need to file for a water right with the water court to make the water right absolute.  After the water court has decreed the water right as absolute the SWCD and County will deed the user the decreed portion of the water right.  The service area for case 06CW127 includes the Animas River and its tributaries upstream of the RICD, including San Juan County.

City of Durango Water Right (06CW09) 

In water case 06CW09, 500 acre feet of diversions were identified by the City of Durango to be available upstream of the RICD to water users who are first to receive a decree with a priority date junior to the RICD.  Water rights covered under this decree may have already been identified.  No application or notice to the City is necessary for securing these rights.

San Juan County Water Rights (05CW88) 

The Southwestern Water Conservation District (“SWCD”) obtained a decree for conditional water rights in Case No. 05CW88 on August 1, 2014.  These conditional water rights are decreed to several points of diversion located on the Animas River and its tributaries within San Juan County and are collectively referred to as the “San Juan County Water Rights.” The water rights may be used for a variety of purposes that are further described in the 05CW88 Decree.  SWCD and San Juan County work jointly to maintain and develop these conditional water rights as they are intended to provide for existing and future water needs within San Juan County.  The first-step for using or making any portion of the San Juan County Water Rights absolute is to submit a completed Notice of Intent Form to SWCD. The form is available here. Staff from SWCD, San Juan County or the Colorado Division of Water Resources may be able to assist you if you need help filling out this form. Once the form has been completed, please contact SWCD (970-247-1302) for more information on the process that must be followed in order to make any portion of the San Juan County Water Rights absolute and the requirements that must be satisfied in order to continue using that portion following entry of a water court decree confirming the same.

Filing for a Water Right Under Case 06CW127 

To apply to use an increment of the water right decreed in Case No. 06CW127, please follow these steps:

  1. Contact Jeff Titus, Water Commissioner for Water District 30 for the Colorado Division of Water Resources (DWR), 160 Rock Point Drive, Suite A, Durango, Colorado, 970-247-1845 to arrange a time to discuss your proposal to use an increment of the water right decreed in 06CW127. The DWR officials will be able to help quantify the amount of water needed for the use at the proposed location.
  2. Submit a “Notice of Intent to Make Absolute” Application Form (“Notice of Intent”) to SWCD at or drop it off at 841 E 2nd Avenue, Durango, Colorado.
  3. Once the Notice of Intent has been reviewed and approved, then SWCD will submit the form with SWCD’s signature to La Plata County (970-382-6375). After the Notice of Intent is reviewed and signed by both SWCD and La Plata County, it will be mailed or emailed back to you. SWCD and La Plata County will endeavor to provide initial Notice of Intent review within 60 days of submittal.
  4. Put the water to beneficial use.
  5. Once the water is in use, go through the normal process of obtaining a decree from Division 7 Water Court by submitting a water court application and paying the requisite court filing fee.  Click here to download the water court application form JDF300WThe water right is not adjudicated as absolute until it is decreed by the court, so please continue with this next step. If you need assistance developing the application, please contact the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Please email SWCD and La Plata County a copy of the application and inform us of your court case number.
  6. When the Court issues a decree, send a letter requesting your final quitclaim deed to SWCD with the name to which you wish the deed to be issued and a current address. SWCD and La Plata County will issue the final deed and record it for you. A final deed will be mailed to you.
  7. If you sell: If at any stage in this process you sell your property or the water exchanges hands, please contact SWCD and La Plata County and provide them with an update in ownership status.

More information about this process can also be found on La Plata County’s website. If you have any questions, please call our District office at 970 247-1302. Click here to read the original decree for case no. 06CW127.


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