by Larry MacDonnell
What evidence of projected future use must a public water agency demonstrate to obtain a conditional water right? The Colorado Supreme Court took up this question in a recent case involving claims by the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the San Juan Water Conservancy District to as much as 64,000 acre-feet of San Juan River water. The two districts had justified their need for this water by projecting demands to the year 2100. The water court granted the decree.
Trout Unlimited appealed the case to the Colorado Supreme Court, arguing the decree awarded rights for speculative uses. Following its newly re-invigorated anti-speculation doctrine, the Court threw out the decree and remanded the case for further consideration of demonstrated need based on a specific plan for a “reasonable” planning period.
Endangered Species Act
On November 1, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced its intention to revise the listing rule for the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse by removing populations in Wyoming from the protected list. While determining that the Preble’s is indeed a distinct subspecies, FWS decided the populations in Wyoming were not under any threat of extinction and could, therefore, be removed from the protections of the Endangered Species Act. Preble’s found in Colorado remain a listed species.