Water Wells and Your Obligation as a Homeowner
All residents of our community use water from the Dawson Aquifer via a well permit that carries very specific obligations to the Tall Pines Ranch (TPR) HOA, individual homeowners, and ultimately the State of Colorado.
Well permits are issued pursuant to a Water Court Decree issued to the Tall Pines Ranch HOA, (TPR Decree, issued pursuant to Case No. 97CW51 (Div2)/ 97CW190 (Div 1), recorded November 25, 1998) by the District Court, Water Division 1 and 2, of the State of Colorado. These decreed water usage allowances are monitored and scrutinized annually by the State. TPR HOA is responsible for the quantity of water usage within our community. Note that the total allocation of water for our community is 23.45 acre/ft per year which converts to 146,946 gallons per year per well. The Decree also states “Outdoor use will be limited by covenant to 2,500 sq. ft. per home served”.
Water well permits are neither guaranteed nor permanent and abuse of usage could lead, ultimately, to Cease and Desist orders from the State of Colorado. Failure to stop water usage after a Cease and Desist order may carry up to a $500 per day, per well fine. These fines may be levied against the HOA or to individual homeowner’s.
Other risks include requiring the TPR Community to drill an augmentation well which would replace our excess water usage or having to defend a lawsuit from any other Division 1 or 2 water user should we be deemed to have been out of compliance with the terms and conditions of the decree and potentially injuring some other water users water rights. For example, diversions of water in excess of the decreed amount over a 20 year period could be used as a basis for legal action. The expansion of uses within the subdivision for other purposes other than those decreed could also be grounds for legal action. There are other obligations in the decree related to post pumping depletions which reserve the Arapahoe and Laramie Fox Hills aquifer water to be used for augmentation in the period of time when the Dawson and Denver wells are no longer pumping but the previous pumping is still depleting the stream system due to the slow movement of water through geologic conditions underground. The HOA would be responsible for replacing those depletions and using the deeper aquifer water as the source of replacement. This could result in the need for constructing a deep well to be used for supplying the amount of water needed to meet these depletions.
While the likelihood of the lawsuit scenario is low, the Board is legally obligated to regulate this portion of our Community’s activity.
The most likely scenario of what could happen would be if Colorado experienced an extended, severe drought not unlike what we had from 1998 to around 2007. Should this occur again, and the Dawson Aquifer begin to severely deplete causing wells to fail in Division 1 or 2, users who have failed to comply with their Decree could be at risk of this type of litigation.
The foregoing comments are consolidated from conversations with District 1 Water Commissioner.
Should you wish to research further information regarding water decrees you may go the State water site http://water.state.co.us/. The community records also contain copies of the original Water Decree should you wish to review.
This and previous Boards have created some financial reserves to anticipate potential costs of augmentation should the worst case scenario occur.
Accordingly, the Board, as part of its obligation and responsibility has enacting a Rule and Regulation to help preserve the water rights of all residents. You can review the Resolution here.
We strongly recommend that if you have, in previous years, exceeded your allotment you begin to check your well usage every 2 to 3 months for usage and modify your lifestyle accordingly to stay within your allocation of 146,946 gallons per year.