Prior to the construction of a well by a licensed driller or the appropriation of groundwater, a well permit must be obtained from the Colorado Division of Water Resources. The “legal” availability of water determines which type of permit is appropriate for a parcel of land. This article concerns those residential wells that are 1) exempt from rules and regulations regarding water administration and 2) are issued with a presumption of non-injury to senior water rights.
Residential Wells – This permit is issued for land parcels located in non-overappropriated stream basins, and allows the appropriation of water for up to three single-family residences, irrigation of up to one acre and the watering of noncommercial livestock.
Household Use Only Wells – This permit is for parcels smaller than 35 acres, located in overappropriated steam basins. Upper Stollsteimer Creek, Devil Creek, and the Rio Blanco upstream of Blanco Basin Road are overappropriated drainages in this area. The water is to be used for ordinary household use inside one single-family dwelling. No outside uses are permitted, including watering of landscape or noncommercial livestock. However, for tracts of land located in an overappropriated drainage, greater in size than 35 acres, a residential permit, which allows lawn and garden irrigation and watering of noncommercial livestock, may be obtained.
Property owners should not assume they can automatically get a well permit. Some permits are denied if the well would cause injury to another vested water right. Wells constructed without a permit or by nonlicensed contractors would be considered illegal wells and the owner would probably be ordered to plug and abandon the well.
Further information can be obtained by contacting the Colorado Division of Water Resources located at 468 Pagosa Street, Suite B, Pagosa Springs, Co. 81147, 970-264-4241.