The fate of water rights for Paint Brush Hills property owners in the area of Rex Road is still uncertain. As reported in the June issue of The New Falcon Herald, a proposal from Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District dealing with those water rights was scheduled for a hearing with the Colorado Ground Water Commission. The minutes of the last CGWC meeting on Aug. 18 lists that proposal under the heading of “Pending.”
However, Dave Doran, president of the Upper Black Squirrel Creek Ground Water Management District, said the proposal for a variance from water rules has been withdrawn, and a new proposal has been submitted.
Several telephone calls to Robert Guevera, district manager of Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District, to learn the details of the new request and its status in the approval process have not been returned.
“I don’t know what their plan is,” Doran said. He said his counsel and the metro district’s counsel are meeting for clarification. Depending what is proposed, it is possible the new request might not need the approval of the CGWC, Doran said.
Groundwater in the Falcon area comes from the Denver Basin, which extends from Greeley to Colorado Springs and from Limon to the foothills. Within the Denver Basin are four separate aquifers at different depths: the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hill. The water in each aquifer is completely separate from the other aquifers in the Denver Basin, and all four aquifers are nonrenewable.
In the June issue of the NFH, Guevera said the developer of PBH bought the water rights for filings 1, 2 and 3 (in the vicinity of Rex Road) from the original owner of the property. The developer in turn sold the water rights to the Dawson Aquifer to people who bought property in filings 1, 2 and 3. Those property owners drilled wells into the Dawson Aquifer, and PBH retained the water rights to the other three aquifers in the Denver Basin that underlie filings 1, 2 and 3.
The original variance requested by PBH involved moving the water rights from under the property in filings 1, 2, and 3 to the PBH wells at a separate location.
Currently, water rights are based on water underlying the land. According to the “Denver Basin Groundwater Rights” document cited on the Division of Water Resources website,”A landowner or party to which water rights underlying the land has been conveyed, may claim a right to withdraw and use groundwater from the Denver Basin bedrock aquifer underlying the land.” The groundwater rights document also states, “A landowner or party to which the water right underlying the land has been conveyed is limited to withdrawing only that water that has been determined to be underling the land.”
It is unclear at this time if the revised variance request involves moving water rights from beneath overlying land.
Doran said there is no legal requirement to notify homeowners in the affected area of the request for a variance. However, in the interest of transparency, he said residents should be informed of the PHB request for a variance.