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Estes Park Flow Structure 

For over 125 years, the Colorado Division of Water Resources has been empowered to administer all water rights according to the Appropriation Doctrine (in short, 1st in time, 1st in right). Most of this work is done by Division Offices located in the seven major river basins of the state. These offices employ water commissioners to ensure the priority system is followed, enforcing the decrees and water laws of the State of Colorado. The Colorado Ground Water Law of 1957 established the permitting requirement of ground water wells, and by 1969, surface and ground water rights were administered together.

Whether water is used simply to drink from your household tap or to irrigate hundreds of acres of cropland, everyone in Colorado benefits from the orderly distribution and management of the state’s most precious resource. For more information, read the Guide to Well Permits, Water Rights, and Water Administration, as well as the Synopsis of Colorado Water Law, and visit the links below.  For information on Ground Water Administration and Well Permitting, please see our Ground Water section.  For assistance in finding data or purchasing publications, please see our Records Research section.