Article Last Updated: 10/27/2007 09:25:34 PM MDT
TU challenged the application, claiming the diversion would significantly impact the river's flow. As often is the case, the water court ruled for the developer. TU appealed on grounds that the water was being claimed for speculative purposes.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision and remanded the case, instructing the water court to reevaluate the districts' future water needs.
Drew Peternell, TU's attorney, hailed the ruling for its broader implication.
"It establishes a precedent throughout Colorado that municipal water providers cannot claim water rights for which they do not have a demonstrable need," Peternell said.
"This decision is especially significant in the fact that the Supreme Court recognized the potential of water conservation as a means of limiting water demand."
Several of the state's largest municipal providers filed briefs in support of the Pagosa bid, arguing that cities should be afforded broad deference in appropriating water rights. The court rejected that argument.