City of Thornton v. Bijou Irr. Co., No. 2

Docket NºNo. 1
Citation926 P.2d 1
Case DateOctober 15, 1996
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Page 1

926 P.2d 1
The CITY OF THORNTON, Applicant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee,
v.
BIJOU IRRIGATION CO.; Bijou Irrigation District; Andrew
Blase & Vivien Akin; Burlington Ditch, Land & Reservoir
Co.; Central Colorado Water Conservancy District and its
Ground Water Management Subdistrict; Cache La Poudre Water
Users Assoc.; City of Arvada; City of Aurora; City of
Brighton; City of Broomfield; City and County of Denver,
acting by and through its Board of Water Commissioners;
City of Englewood; City of Greeley; Consolidated Ditches
of District No. 2; Colorado Division of Wildlife; Harold
Deane; Delta Irrigation Co.; Excalibur Resources Co.;
Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Co.; Fort Morgan Irrigation
& Reservoir Co.; Henrylyn Irrigation District;
Irrigationists Assoc.; Jackson Lake Reservoir & Irrigation
Co.; Jackson Ditch Co.; Larimer & Weld Irrigation Co.;
Larimer & Weld Reservoir Co.; New Cache La Poudre
Irrigating Co.; North Poudre Irrigation Co.; Ogilvy
Irrigating & Land Co.; Paul Lind & Sons; Wanda Lee Rankin;
Riverside Irrigation District; Riverside Reservoir & Land
Co.; St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District;
Thompson Water Users Assoc.; Water Supply and Storage Co.;
Western Sugar Co.; and Windsor Reservoir Co., Objectors-Appellees,
and
Alan Berryman, Division Engineer, Water Division No. 1,
Appellee pursuant to C.A.R. 1(e),
and
Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District; Keith Amen;
Warren & Viola Amen; J.W. and Bessy L. Hutcheson; Dwain &
Vera Yetter, Colorado Division Engineer, Water Division 1
and State Engineer (by motion to intervene); Public Service
Company of Colorado; Eastman Kodak Company--Colorado
Division; City of Fort Collins; and Platte River Power
Authority, Objectors-Appellees/Cross-Appellants.
No. 94SA66.
Supreme Court of Colorado,
En Banc.
Oct. 15, 1996.

Page 16

White & Jankowski, Michael D. White, David F. Jankowski, Scotty P. Krob, Joseph B. Dischinger, David C. Taussig, Thomas J. Davidson, Austin C. Hamre, Denver, for Applicant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee the City of Thornton.

Epperson, McClary, Zorn & McClary, Donald F. McClary, Fort Morgan, for Objectors-Appellees Bijou Irrigation Co., Bijou Irrigation District, and the Irrigationists Assoc.

Lind, Lawrence & Ottenhoff, Kim R. Lawrence, Greeley, for Objector-Appellee the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District, and the Ground Water Management Subdistrict of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Fischer, Brown, Huddleson & Gunn, P.C., William H. Brown, Ward H. Fischer, William R. Fischer, Fort Collins, for Objectors-Appellees Cache La Poudre Water Users Assoc., and the Water Supply and Storage Co.

Page 17

Sommermeyer, Wick, Dow & Campbell, Timothy J. Dow, Fort Collins, for Objectors-Appellees Larimer & Weld Irrigation Co., Larimer & Weld Reservoir Co., and Winds or Reservoir Co.

Trout & Raley, P.C., Robert V. Trout, Jennifer Russell, Denver, for Objectors-Appellees/Cross-Appellants Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Keith Amen, Warren and Viola Amen, J.W. and Bessy L. Hutcheson, and Dwain and Vera Yetter.

Gale A. Norton, Attorney General, Stephen K. ErkenBrack, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Timothy M. Tymkovich, Solicitor General, Patricia S. Bangert, Deputy Attorney General, Jennifer L. Gimbel, First Assistant Attorney General, Steven O. Sims, Assistant Attorney General, Natural Resources Section, Denver, for Objectors-Appellees/Cross-Appellants Colorado Division Engineer, Water Division 1, and State Engineer.

Gorsuch Kirgis L.L.C., Brian M. Nazarenus, Denver, for Objector-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Public Service Company of Colorado.

Vranesh and Raisch, LLC, Jerry W. Raisch, Michael D. Shimmin, Douglas A. Goulding, Thomas Morris, Boulder, for Objectors-Appellees/Cross-Appellants Eastman Kodak Company--Colorado Division, and City of Fort Collins.

Moses, Wittemyer, Harrison and Woodruff, P.C., John Wittemyer, Christopher G. Wittemyer, Boulder, for Objector-Appellee/Cross-Appellant Platte River Power Authority.

Patricia L. Wells, Michael L. Walker, Henry C. Teigen, Casey S. Funk, Mary B. Rastall, Denver, for Amicus Curiae the City and County of Denver, acting by and through its Board of Water Commissioners (also designated as an Objector-Appellee).

David C. Hallford, Glenwood Springs, for Amicus Curiae Colorado River Water Conservation District.

Anderson, Gianunzio, Dude, Pifher & Lebel, P.C., Mark T. Pifher, Colorado Springs, for Amicus Curiae Twin Lakes Reservoir and Canal Company.

No appearance for the following Objectors-Appellees: Andrew Blase; Vivien Akin; Burlington Ditch, Land & Reservoir Co.; City of Arvada; City of Aurora; City of Brighton; City of Broomfield; City of Englewood; City of Greeley; Consolidated Ditches of District No. 2; Colorado Division of Wildlife; Harold Deane; Delta Irrigation Co.; Excalibur Resources Co.; Farmers Reservoir & Irrigation Co.; Fort Morgan Irrigation & Reservoir Co.; Henrylyn Irrigation District; Jackson Lake Reservoir & Irrigation Co.; Jackson Ditch Co.; New Cache La Poudre Irrigating Co.; North Poudre Irrigation Co.; Ogilvy Irrigating & Land Co.; Paul Lind & Sons; Wanda Lee Rankin; Riverside Irrigation District; Riverside Reservoir & Land Co.; St. Vrain & Left Hand Water Conservancy District; Thompson Water Users Assoc.; and Western Sugar Co.

Justice LOHR delivered the Opinion of the Court.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 page
                 I. Facts and Procedural History 19
                 A. Facts 19
                 B. Procedural History 21
                 II. Adequacy of Notice 23
                 A. Standing 23
                 B. Statutory and Case Law Standards 24
                 1. Statutes 24
                 2. Case Law--General Standards 24
                 C. Notice--Storage Rights 25
                 D. Notice--Refill Rights 27
                 E. Notice--Designation of Replacement Waters 28
                 F. Notice--Transmountain Water Rights 29
                III. Conditional Water Rights 31
                 page
                 A. Introduction 31
                 B. Overt Acts and Priority/Appropriation Date 31
                 1. Elements of Overt Acts; Trial Court Ruling 31
                 2. Adequacy of Overt Acts to Give Notice--General Standards 33
                 3. Adequacy of Thornton's Acts to Give Notice 34
                 a. Signs 34
                 b. Surveys 35
                 c. Formal Acts 35
                 C. Intent and Anti"Speculation 36
                 1. Overview of Anti"Speculation Doctrine 37
                 2. Review of Trial Court's Ruling on Intent and Anti"Speculation 40
                 D. Can and Will Doctrine 42
                 1. Can and Will--Standard 42
                 2. Review of Trial Court's Ruling on Can and Will 43
                 a. Contingencies 43
                 b. Conformity between Decreed Flow Rates and Capacities of 45
                 Diversion Structures
                 IV. Terms and Conditions of Decree 46
                 A. Volumetric Limits and Reality Checks 46
                 1. Volumetric Limits 46
                 2. Reality Checks 49
                 a. Volumetric Yield 50
                 b. Use or Disposition of Existing Water Rights 52
                 B. Use of Colorado"Big Thompson Water 53
                 1. Overview of Colorado"Big Thompson Project 53
                 2. Thornton's Proposed Primary Uses and Trial Court's Ruling 54
                 3. Review of Trial Court's Ruling 55
                 a. Consistency with Governing Contracts, Statutes, and Rules 55
                 i. Water Conservancy Act and Repayment Contract 56
                 ii. NCWD Rules and Allotment Contract 58
                 iii. Conclusion 59
                 b. Consistency with Colorado Water Policy and Statutory Law 59
                 i. Contract Provisions 60
                 ii. NCWD Rules 60
                 4. Thornton's Proposed Use of CBT Seepage Water 61
                 C. Reuse of Transmountain Water 62
                 1. Historical Use and Thornton's Reuse Plan 62
                 2. Trial Court Ruling 63
                 3. Development of Law of Reuse 65
                 a. Native Water 65
                 b. Foreign Water 66
                 4. Characteristics of Right to Reuse Foreign Water 68
                 a. Intent to Reuse 68
                 b. Abandonment 70
                 c. Injury 72
                 5. Laches and Equitable Estoppel 73
                 a. Laches 73
                 b. Equitable Estoppel 74
                 6. Summary 77
                 D. Recharge Obligations 78
                 1. Replacement Directly to Stream 80
                 2. Application to Wells Decreed Nontributary 82
                 E. Revegetation 83
                 F. Dry"Up Conditions 86
                 G. Kodak Water Quality Issue 89
                 1. Relation Between Appropriation Doctrine and Quality Issues 91
                 2. Relation between Quality and Cognizable Injury 92
                 3. Relation between Quality and Minimum Stream Flow 93
                 4. Conclusion 94
                 H. Quality of Substitute Supply for WSSC Ditch Exchange 95
                 1. Facts 95
                 2. Standards and Application to Facts 96
                 3. Additional Safeguards 97
                 I. Payment of Division Engineer's Expenses of Administration 98
                 V. Conclusion 99
                

Page 19

This case involves the City of Thornton's Northern Project, one of the largest municipal water projects to come before this court in recent memory. Thornton appeals, and various objectors who oppose the Northern Project cross-appeal, from portions of a decree entered by the District Court for Water Division No. 1 in four consolidated cases, case nos. 86CW401, 86CW402, 86CW403, and 87CW332. The trial court approved, subject to numerous terms and conditions, Thornton's applications for adjudication of new conditional water rights (including exchanges) and for changes in use of existing water rights. Together, the rights so decreed provide the foundation for the Northern Project, which is expected to yield in excess of 50,000 acre feet of water to Thornton per year. We affirm the trial court's entry of the decree granting Thornton's applications for adjudication of the conditional rights and the changes of use. We also affirm the majority of the terms and conditions imposed by the trial court. However, we conclude that certain of the terms and conditions imposed in the decree are invalid or unwarranted. Thus, we reverse the trial court with respect to those terms and conditions and remand to that court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. Facts and Procedural History

A. Facts

The City of Thornton, the applicant in this case, is a municipal corporation of the State of Colorado. Thornton is a suburban community located north of the City and County of Denver on the South Platte River just north of, or downstream from, the confluence of that river with Clear Creek. The city owns and operates a municipal water and sewer system for the benefit of its citizens as well as certain additional consumers not located within the current municipal boundaries. The population served...

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102 practice notes
  • In the Matter of Application for Water Rights of Park County Sportsmen's Ranch, LLP, Case No. 01SA412 (CO 2/14/2005), Case No. 01SA412.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • February 14, 2005
    ...674 P.2d 914, 931 (Colo. 1983). The South Platte River Basin is substantially overappropriated. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 71 n.66 (Colo. 1996); Hall v. Kuiper, 181 Colo. 130, 132, 510 P.2d 329, 330 (1973). Thus, absent a showing to the contrary, groundwater deple......
  • People v. McCoy, Court of Appeals No. 11CA1795
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • June 18, 2015
    ...73 But because no express language in Morse supports the second premise, I reject it. See City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 73 n.68 (Colo. 1996) ("In the absence of an explicit ruling, we do not interpret this case to overrule established precedent...."). Rathe......
  • City of Aurora v. Colorado State Engineer, No. 01SA412.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 18, 2005
    ...674 P.2d 914, 931 (Colo.1983). The South Platte River Basin is substantially overappropriated. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 71 n. 66 (Colo.1996); Hall v. Kuiper, 181 Colo. 130, 132, 510 P.2d 329, 330 (1973). Thus, absent a showing to the contrary, groundwater deplet......
  • In re Kann, Court of Appeals No. 16CA0259
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 13, 2017
    ...on the actions of the opposing party, under the circumstances of the case considered as a whole. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co. , 926 P.2d 1, 74 (Colo. 1996) ; see also Pomeroy § 419d, at 179 (commenting that prejudice requires a "showing as to whether the situation of the ad......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
102 cases
  • In the Matter of Application for Water Rights of Park County Sportsmen's Ranch, LLP, Case No. 01SA412 (CO 2/14/2005), Case No. 01SA412.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • February 14, 2005
    ...674 P.2d 914, 931 (Colo. 1983). The South Platte River Basin is substantially overappropriated. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 71 n.66 (Colo. 1996); Hall v. Kuiper, 181 Colo. 130, 132, 510 P.2d 329, 330 (1973). Thus, absent a showing to the contrary, groundwater deple......
  • People v. McCoy, Court of Appeals No. 11CA1795
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • June 18, 2015
    ...73 But because no express language in Morse supports the second premise, I reject it. See City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 73 n.68 (Colo. 1996) ("In the absence of an explicit ruling, we do not interpret this case to overrule established precedent...."). Rather than cre......
  • City of Aurora v. Colorado State Engineer, No. 01SA412.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • January 18, 2005
    ...674 P.2d 914, 931 (Colo.1983). The South Platte River Basin is substantially overappropriated. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co., 926 P.2d 1, 71 n. 66 (Colo.1996); Hall v. Kuiper, 181 Colo. 130, 132, 510 P.2d 329, 330 (1973). Thus, absent a showing to the contrary, groundwater deplet......
  • In re Kann, Court of Appeals No. 16CA0259
    • United States
    • Colorado Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • July 13, 2017
    ...on the actions of the opposing party, under the circumstances of the case considered as a whole. City of Thornton v. Bijou Irrigation Co. , 926 P.2d 1, 74 (Colo. 1996) ; see also Pomeroy § 419d, at 179 (commenting that prejudice requires a "showing as to whether the situation of the adverse......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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