Grand Valley Water Users Ass'n v. Busk-Ivanhoe, Inc.Annotate this Case
The City of Aurora was the sole owner of the capital stock of Busk-Ivanhoe, Inc., which owned a one-half interest in water rights decreed in 1928 to the Busk-Ivanhoe System for supplemental irrigation in the Arkansas River Basin by Garfield County District Court (in Civil Action 2621, known as the "2621 Decree"). The decree contained no reference to storage of exported water on the eastern slope prior to its decreed use for supplemental irrigation in the Arkansas River Basin. Nevertheless, water decreed to the Busk-Ivanhoe System has been stored in reservoirs before put to beneficial use. In 1987, Busk-Ivanhoe began to put its water rights to use in Aurora. Busk-Ivanhoe did not file an application to change the type and place of use of these rights until 2009. The water court for Water Division 2 approved Busk-Ivanhoe's change application allow use of the rights within Aurora's municipal system. The rulings were confirmed in 2014. The issues raised in this appeal centered on the water court's quantification of the water rights to be changed under the application. After review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) the water court erred when it concluded that storage of the Busk-Ivanhoe rights on the eastern slope prior to use was lawful; (2) because the storage of the water rights was unlawful, the water court erred in concluding the volumes of exported water paid as rental fees for storage in its historic consumptive use quantification of the water rights; and (3) the water court erred in concluding it was required to exclude the twenty-two years of undecreed use of the water rights from the representative study period. The water court's 2014 order was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings.