More history of water rights
Whoever came up with "first in time, first in right" had no idea of the conflicts to follow! The history of water rights is interesting (thanks Beth, for your post!), only now it's Colorado interpreting old laws.
A development company near the town of Ft. Collins wants to divert agricultural water for municipal use in a new residential area of 160 acres. In 1864, a ditch was dug to divert water from the Cache la Poudre River for farmland, and the original users specified that the water was to be used only for irrigation.
Later, the original water owners sold their shares in the ditch and its water to a larger irrigation company, but retained delivery rights - rights to receive the water, even though they did not own it. The contract specified that delivery rights are senior to owners rights.
Seems simple, but now the entity who holds the senior delivery rights is the same entity that wants the water for the residential development- East Ridge. The news story is a bit confusing, as it doesn't really explain who or what East Ridge is. (page 8, item 25 in this document indicates that East Ridge is the name of some property, but the last line of the story quotes a company attorney)
Anyway, the courts, including the state supreme court, all upheld the original contract and denied water to the development. In a bit of twisted logic, East Ridge's attorney says "Particularly with Colorado having all the water issues they have now, we thought it was appropriate that the policy be maximum utilization of water - and it is - and this water won't be used the best way it could be used for this property based on this decision." Sure, it's maximum utilization to the group who's interests he represents.... but what about the agriculture industry? Since when is urban sprawl a more appropriate use of water than growing food?
On the other hand, don't laws and contracts need to be revisited on occasion to make sure they are still useful?