The definitions below are merely offered as a public services to assist you. If you desire a legal definition, please contact a water attorney

  • Abandonment: the loss of a water right due to non-use and a court action
  • Absolute water right: a water right, with a specified priority date,that has been placed to a beneficial use
  • Acre foot: the amount of water which will cover one acre of land, one foot deep. One acre of land is 43,560 square feet
  • Adjudication: a court action confirming the existence of a water right
  • Adjudication date: the date a court awarded a water right 
  • Appropriate: the act of possessing, controlling, or demonstrating an intent to use water for beneficial purposes
  • Appropriation date: the date that can be proven in a court of law 
  • Augmentation: to add to an existing water supply 
  • Beneficial use: to apply water to a useful purpose in an efficient and responsible manner without being wasteful
  • CFS: aka cubic foot per second. The measurement of the flow of water in which one cubic foot per second as measured by time
  • Conditional water right: a provisional water right that has not been granted absolute by a water court
  • Confluence: where two waters meet
  • Decree: an official document issued by the court defining the priority, amount, use, and location of the water right 
  • Decreed water right: a court decision placed on a water right that is then administered by Colorado's Water Resource Department
  • Developed water: refers to wells, storage, and imported water
  • Diligence: action taken towards the perfection of a conditional water right
  • Down - ditch issue: a civil issue between water users in which state water commissioners or ditch riders have no authority
  • Exempt well: wells that are outside the postponement doctrine, exempt from the priority system, and not subject to administration by the Division of Water Resources
  • Groundwater: any water below the ground surface
  • Head gate: a control structure or gate upstream of a ditch, canal,or pipe
  • Irrigation: the controlled application of water for agricultural purposes through manmade systems to supply water requirements not satisfied by rainfall
  • Non-tributary water: water that is so deep it does not impact water in Colorado
  • Over-appropriated: a water term used to describe a surface water drainage system that has more decreed water rights claims on the system than can be satisfied by the physical supply of the water available
  • Point of diversion: the place where water is removed from the live stream
  • Priority: 1. The right of an earlier appropriator to divert from a natural stream in preference to a late appropriator. 2. Seniority date of a water right or conditional water rights deriving water from a common source. Priority is a function of both the appropriation date and the relevant adjudication date of the right.
  • Reservoir: a natural or artificial place to store water; water storage created by building a dam, pond, lake, or basin used for the storage, regulation, and control of water
  • River call: usually a written document filed with the division engineer stating that as of a certain date and time, a water right holder is not receiving all of the water they are entitled to by decree, and are requesting that the division engineer shut down or curtail all upstream water rights junior to them until the senior right is satisfied
  • Senior water rights: water rights that have been established first and are older than junior rights
  • Structure: any apparatus constructed to divert water, such as a head gate, pipe, pipe or well
  • Storage water right: Colorado law provides for "appropriation by storage" of water that will be captured in reservoirs and subsequently be put to beneficial use in priority
  • Salvaged water: water which is saved through efficiency
  • Spring: a surface water supply that may be below the ground surface
  • Surface water: any water running free above the ground surface
  • Tributary water: any water that makes a contribution to a live stream in Colorado
  • Water right: a right to use, in accordance with its priority, a certain amount of water