Colo. Water Conservation Bd. v. Farmers Water Development Co.Annotate this Case
Pursuant to its statutory authority, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), after a notice and comment period and a hearing, voted to appropriate an instream flow right (ISF) on the San Miguel River, and to file a water application for water rights with the water court. Farmers Water Development Company opposed the proposed San Miguel ISF during the notice and comment period, but did not attend the hearing. Farmers also opposed the application at the water court. On cross-motions for a determination of a question of law, the water court was asked to determine whether the CWCB's decision to appropriate an ISF was a quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial decision. Farmers argued that the decision was quasi-judicial, and that the procedures CWCB followed did not meet the dictates of procedural due process. The water court disagreed, concluding the CWCB was acting in a quasi-legislative capacity when it decided to appropriate the San Miguel ISF because, among other things, it was not adjudicating individual rights. The Supreme Court agreed: the CWCB's ISF appropriation was quasi-legislative because it was a policy decision "to preserve the natural environment" on behalf of the people of Colorado, as opposed to an adjudication of the rights of any specific party.