Compiled by Hannah Garcia, LAW WEEK COLORADO
Editor’s note: Summaries are pulled directly from court opinions and edited for clarity and space.
COLORADO SUPREME COURT
April 6 opinions:
Colorado Water Conservation Board v. Farmers Water Development Co.
In this proceeding, the Supreme Court considered whether the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s decision to appropriate an instream flow is quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial.
The high court affirmed a water court judgment and held the board’s decision to make an “ISF” appropriation is quasi-legislative because it is a policy decision to “preserve the natural environment” “on behalf of the people of the state of Colorado,” as opposed to an adjudication of the rights of any specific party, as is the case with quasi-judicial determinations.
Pursuant to this authority given by the General Assembly, and after a notice and comment period as well as a hearing, the CWCB voted to appropriate an instream flow right on the San Miguel River and to file an application for water rights with the water court. As required by section 37-92-102(3)(c) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, the board made three determinations regarding the San Miguel ISF appropriation: that the natural environment would be preserved to a reasonable degree by the water to be appropriated, that there was a natural environment that could be preserved with the CWCB’s water right and that such environment could exist without material injury to water rights. The Farmers Water Development Company opposed the proposed San Miguel ISF during the notice and comment process, but did not attend the hearing. The CWCB then filed an application for water rights for the San Miguel ISF in district court, which Farmers opposed. The water court concluded that the CWCB was acting in a quasi-legislative capacity because, among other things, it was not adjudicating individual rights