colorado water law

What is an Augmentation Plan and What Is Its Value?

What is an Augmentation Plan and What Is Its Value?

Augmentation plans in Colorado were established in the 1969 Water Rights Determination and Administration Act (“1969 Act”). The 1969 Act recognized the hydraulic interaction relationship between surface water rights and alluvial groundwater rights, and that groundwater rights that were generally junior to surface water rights could injure the senior rights, especially since at the time there was rapidly increasing alluvial well pumping. Therefore, one of the results of the 1969 Act was to require augmentation plans for junior water users on over-appropriated streams that would require these users to obtain sufficient replacement water to offset any injurious depletions to senior water rights. In this way, junior water rights could continue to pump as long as they didn’t injure the senior rights. Augmentation plans apply to any junior groundwater right, whether it is associated with an alluvial aquifer adjacent to a stream or not-nontributary water of the Denver Basin.