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United Water and Sanitation District v. Burlington Ditch Reservoir and Land Co.

2020 CO 80. No. 19SA150. Water Law—Intent as to Use of Water—Anti-Speculation Doctrine.

November 23, 2020

The Water Court in Division 1 rejected United Water and Sanitation District’s (United) application for a conditional water right on the ground that it failed to demonstrate a nonspeculative intent. The water court reasoned that United did not qualify for the governmental planning exception to the anti-speculation doctrine and could not satisfy the anti-speculation standards applicable to private appropriators. United is a one-acre special district incorporated in Elbert County and has no governmental or agency relationship with the end users proposed to be benefited by its appropriation in Weld County. It is thus ineligible for the governmental planning exception. The contract that United offered to support its application was insufficiently definite and binding to satisfy the anti-speculation standards applicable to private appropriators. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the water court’s judgment.

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