The legal framework for the administration of water appropriations in Colorado is known as the prior appropriation doctrine.  This doctrine establishes a priority system for water allocation in time, place and amount and thereby regulates the use of water.  This system is mandated by Coloradoâ’s Constitution and is also referred to as the “prior appropriation doctrine.” Colorado is perhaps the most stringent of all western states in terms of adherence to the prior appropriation doctrine.  

The water appropriation system is based upon the principle of “first in time, first in right.”  Water users with the oldest, or “senior,” water rights must be fulfilled before junior water rights can divert.  This can result in the curtailment of junior water rights in times of short supply.

Zancanella and Associates has assisted their clientele in appropriating and acquiring the physical and legal water supplies necessary for maintaining strong water rights portfolios.

Water Rights Engineering Services

  • Appropriation of Water Rights
  • Augmentation Plans
  • Historic Consumptive Use Analysis
  • Groundwater Return Flow Calculations
  • Surface Water Return Flow Calculations
  • Crop Consumption Analyses
  • Precipitation Analyses
  • Storage Rights
  • Substitute Water Supply Plans
  • Exchanges, Changes, Quantification and Transfer of Water Rights



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