March 5, 2006
Executive Summary From: McArthur Ranch Civic Association Board.




  1. This decree will identify and solidify your “rights” to the water under your lot.
  2. The decree will create a “pool on paper” of some of the water (not all) under each participating lot. The ability to participate in the pool will transfer on sale to the new lot owners.
  3. The decree will create, with today’s laws, recognition of our legal access to this pool in the future.
  4. The decree will also provide a basis for protecting and defending the water under the subdivision. With the rapid growth in the area, it is important to have a decree, which quantifies our water so that we have standing to protect the rights, in water court, if necessary.
  5. As homeowners we could each undertake this effort on our own, but it makes economic sense to band together.

Why now? The law allows for this creation now, and the law, or the costs associated with protecting our water rights, could change in the future.

What do I need to do to participate? You need to fill out the attached Consent form and return it with a check made out to McArthur Ranch Civic Association in the amount of $150 to Dale Lake, 702 Quarry Road Littleton CO 80124. The final cost to each participating lot owner will fluctuate based on the actual cost of the case, and the number of lots participating.

When: Send Dale the consent form and check by April 6 2006.

Questions: A homeowners meeting will be set up shortly, I am waiting to hear from Gary on his availability. Also you may e-mail questions to Dale Lake at we will compile the questions and send out answers as well as give a list to Gary.

Water Court Application on Behalf of McArthur Ranch Lot Owners

This is to advise you of the option to participate in obtaining a decree in Colorado Water Court to adjudicate and quantify the water under the lots in the McArthur Ranch Subdivision. Some lot owners may have already begun this process. However, to save time and expense, we propose completing one large Water Court case to include as many lots as possible. The water subject to the application would be located in the deeper Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers underlying the subdivision. We believe most lots are currently served by individual wells into the Lower Dawson aquifer which are permitted as exempt wells. Water associated with exempt wells (see glossary at end) cannot be included in a Water Court decree. Therefore, no Lower Dawson aquifer water would be included, and should you need to drill another well into the Lower Dawson this decree would have no bearing on that request. Also, only part of each lots portion of the Denver aquifer water would be included in the decree, so that a lot owner would be permitted an exempt well into the Denver aquifer for use on the lot, if necessary. (Water in the Arapahoe aquifer may not be available for decree if prior and older well rights exist, this status will be determined via investigation after the petition is filed).

The amount of Denver Basin water in each aquifer available for decree is based on the overlying land acreage. We estimate that under an average 5-acre lot in McArthur Ranch, the following annual amounts could be decreed:

1.0 acre-feet in the Denver aquifer*
2.7 acre-feet in the Arapahoe aquifer
1.2 acre-feet in the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer#

*Amount available after amount reserved for an exempt well permit on the lot.
# These annual amounts are based on pumping over a 100-year period. (One acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons).

In the future if individual Lower Dawson wells start to deteriorate, the next alternative for a lot owner is to obtain a water supply from the Denver aquifer, which would be approximately 600 to 800 feet deep. The Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers are much deeper and could be approximately 1600 feet and 2600 feet deep, respectively, and generally so expensive as to only be accessible on a community basis.

If the Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers underlying all of the lots in the subdivision are included in the final decree, there would be a "pool" of this water established on paper and identified for use in the future. The decree would probably be necessary if, in the future, the lot owners wanted to develop the water to be withdrawn through a central well, to supply lots through a shared water supply system, or to trade the water rights for service from an established water district, which could serve the lots. However, this decree does not obligate any lot owner to participate in the cost of central well system in the future, nor does it guarantee a central system will be developed.

A decree will also confirm the ownership of the groundwater underlying each lot in the name of the individual lot owner which then becomes a property right. However, the water will be tied to the lot for future supply. We believe that including your lot in an application would be beneficial, since the decree will confirm your ownership of the groundwater and provide for a future water supply for your lot. (Participation will also not have any affect on your existing well or your right to use any of the water underlying your lot in any of the aquifers).

If you have already adjudicated your water, the value to your site is to participate in the pool.

For most people, the need for a supplemental water source may not occur for many years (if ever). However, to prepare for the future, the Home Owner's Association is investigating whether individual lot owners are interested in participating in this decree.

The more lots participating, the less the cost will be for each lot owner. We have received an estimate from a law firm, which specializes in this type of Water Court case that the average cost per lot will be approximately $150.00, if half of the lots participate. This money will be placed in an escrow account and will be used to pay invoices submitted by the law firm in pursuit of this case. Any remaining money will be equitably returned to the homeowners. Any shortfalls will be made up by an equal assessment of the group up to $50 each. Expenditure of an amount in excess of an additional $50 per participant (total $200 per participant) will require written agreement from all participants so assessed.


Re: Groundwater Adjudication/McArthur Ranch Subdivision

We (I) have reviewed the letter concerning the water case for groundwater underlying our (my) lot and hereby provide our (my) consent to adjudicate the Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer groundwater underlying our (my) lot or property at the address referenced below, under our (my) name.

___________________________ ________________________
Name: Name:



Telephone number

Name and Address of Mortgage Company, if any:





March 5, 2006

The following is provided to the Community from the McArthur Ranch Homeowners Board in support of our efforts to file an application in Colorado Water Court. Please read thoroughly. If you have relatives, friends, etc. who live in some of the rural areas to the east of Denver their HOA may have taken similar action. Please feel free to discuss this proposal and share any information you may discover with the Board.

Well water adjudication for lot owners of McArthur Ranch.

Gary Crosby, a paralegal, of Petrock & Fendel is helping McArthur Ranch homeowners join together in establishing our water rights. The purpose of the group action is twofold:

  1. It makes economic sense to file one joint case vs. a bunch of individual case, and
  2. Allows “pooling” of our water resources to form a community water supply in the future, if needed. These “pooled” rights, could also potentially be used to barter with a municipal supplier for future water service. To secure the “pool” for the future, we must set it up now. The water laws may change and prevent pooling, or costs could increase, or a large entity may include the water under our lots in their filing and we may never know until it is too late.

The purpose of the Water Court Application is to obtain a decree that would quantify the amount of water available from the Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers underlying each McArthur Ranch Subdivision lot. A decree from the Water Court will confirm ownership of the underlying groundwater in the name of the individual lot owner. Rights to this water then becomes a property right, and prevents someone else from claiming the rights to the water under your property. The decree will confirm your ownership of the groundwater and provide for a future water supply for your lot. Participation in this pooling will have no effect on the usage of your existing well, or your ability to drill your own well in the future.

Aquifer Average Depth Annual Amount Type
Lower Dawson 400 to 500 feet 1.0 acre-feet Not nontributary
Denver 600 to 700 feet 2.0 acre-feet#* Not nontributary
Arapahoe 1800 to 2000 ft 2.7 acre-feet# Nontributary
Laramie-Fox Hills 2500 to 2600 ft 1.2 acre-feet# Nontributary
Totals   6.9 acre-feet  

# To be decreed into the pool
* Only 1.2 acre-feet of the Denver will be decreed into the pool

The subject of water rights and water law is complex. The Board of Directors of the McArthur Ranch Civic Association has sought information and advice from what is believed to be competent counsel (Petrock & Fendel PC, 700 17th Street, Ste. 1800, Denver, CO 80202 and its representative Gary Crosby). The options presented in this document by the Board of Directors of the McArthur Ranch Civic Association are based on this information and advice. This document and its contents is provided as an informational source only. The ideas, opinions and concepts expressed here should not be construed as specific financial or legal advice. You should consult with your professional advisors regarding your particular situation

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will this “pooling” action take away control of my water rights? No. After the decree is granted, you, as the lot owner, will maintain full control of your water rights and can apply for a permit to drill a well into any of the above aquifers, until you decide, along with other McArthur Ranch residents, to create a common water supply. A common water supply would only be desirable if the shallower aquifers have problems and we must drill expensive wells to the deeper aquifers. The decree application legally creates the “pooling” provision to simply, and make available to us, this opportunity in the future.

Q: What is water “adjudication?” Adjudication of your well rights is a decree from the Water Court defining your ownership of the water under your property. Unless you have this decree you do not own your water rights. Our application to water court will request a decree that would quantify and establish the terms and conditions to withdraw all (or as much as possible) of the available Denver, Arapahoe and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer water underlying the McArthur Ranch Subdivision lots, if needed in the future.

Q: Don’t I already “own” the “rights” water in my well? No. The State of Colorado issued a permit to drill a well on your property. This permit is issued by the State Engineer and allows you to use the well for a stated purpose, but it does not recognize your right to that water, which must be secured through a court of law.

Q: Why take this action now? Today we can gain legal rights for the deep water under our property but as water demand increases we may someday be restricted from doing this. it is impossible to predict the availability of this water in the future. Or there is a slight possibility that someone might adjudicate our water for themselves and we may not know it.

Q: Who else has done this? Surrey Ridge – 150 people in Surrey Ridge applied for well adjudication in 2000 and was issued decrees in 2003. Since then, more Surry Ridge residents have applied for and received decrees, bringing the total to about 180 residents. Various McArthur Ranch residents have gone through this process over the years. There are a dozen or so McArthur residents who have already adjudicated. This application would be for those who own the remaining lots and want to participate.

Q: Why should I want to “pool” my water with other residents? Doesn’t this mean that I’m losing control of my water rights?
The purpose of pooling your water rights with those of other McArthur Ranch residents is to simplify the process of creating our own water supply when and if it becomes necessary to drill a common deep water well in the future. In that case, we could drill a common well and pipe water from it to residents in the “pool.” Participation in the actual “pool” would be optional when and if a community well is needed. The wording in this decree simply allows the possibility of pooling our water. No, you do not lose control of your water rights. You always have the right to drill a well into any of the 4 aquifers under your property.

Q: How much will this cost? We can not predict exactly the final cast of setting up the pool as allocated to each homeowner since the cost will be shared amongst those joining the pool and the final cost of the court process, but based on half of the homeowners participation we estimate $150 per lot is a reasonable estimate. This money will be placed in an escrow account and will be used to pay invoices submitted by the law firm in pursuit of this case. Any remaining money will be equitably returned to the home owners. Any shortfalls will be made up by an equal assessment of the group up to $50 each. Expenditure of an amount in excess of an additional $50 per participant (total $200 per participant) will require written agreement from all participants so assessed.

Q: How long will this take? That is hard to say. Individual lot owners have taken about 6 months while Surrey Ridge took 2 ½ years. The delays were the result of objectors, who will certainly “object” to our action. This is normal. The State’s website says it takes between 4 months and 2 years.

Q: Why is Denver aquifer water split between what is allocated for the pool and what is not? Because the Dawson allows for exempt permits (see glossary) and by splitting the water, the site owner always has access to a portion of the Dawson to re-drill using an exempt permit if needed.

Q: What if I received the decree, giving me water rights as described here, and then my Lower Dawson well went dry? What options would I have to access water? If you have adjudicated water rights as outlined in this application you may either apply for an exempt well permit into the Denver aquifer or you may get a permit to use your adjudicated water supply in the Arapaho or Laramie Fox.


(Extracted from )

Aquifer: a formation, group of formations or part of a formation containing sufficient saturated permeable (able to pass through) material that could yield a sufficient quantity of water that may be extracted and put to beneficial use.

Acre-foot: the volume of water equivalent to covering one acre of land to a depth of one foot; equal to 325,851 gallons.

Adjudication: the judicial process through which the existence of a water right is confirmed by decree of the water court.

Exempt uses: any recognized uses that are not subject to administration under the priority system. For further information, see Sections 37-92-602 and 37-90-105, CRS.

Exempt well: a well allowed to be used for exempt uses. For further information, see Sections 37-92-602 and 37-90-105, CRS. --A well with “exempt” status is exempt from the water priority system in which a water rights holder who isn’t getting his share of water can make a “call” which then forces junior water rights holders to reduce water usage or stop using water altogether. Most, if not all, wells in McArthur Ranch are “exempt” wells. Our application for water rights has a provision for the future drilling of an exempt well into the Denver Aquifer if one is ever needed.]

Decree: an official document issued by the water court including, but not limited to, the priority date, amount, use, and location of the water right.

Nontributary ground water: ground water located outside the boundaries of any designated ground water basin, where the withdrawal of this ground water by a well will not, within 100 years, deplete the flow of a natural stream at an annual rate greater than one-tenth of one percent of the annual rate of withdrawal.

Not Nontributary ground water: ground water located within those portions of the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers that are outside of any designated ground water basin in existence on January 1, 1985, the withdrawal of which will, within 100 years, deplete the flow of a natural stream at an annual rate greater than one-tenth of one percent of the annual rate of withdrawal.

Water commissioner: state water official, appointed by the State Engineer and working under the direction of the Division Engineers, who performs the day-to-day administration of surface and ground water in each water district (also see glossary terms, Division Engineer, State Engineer, Water districts, Water divisions).

Water Court: a district court that hears matters related to water. To obtain a judicially recognized water right, change a water right or obtain an augmentation plan, requesting persons or entities file applications with one of these courts and the court will issue a decree or order.

Water right: a property right that is either conditional or absolute and conveys the right to use a particular amount of water, with a specified priority date as confirmed by the water court, or by the Ground Water Commission if within the designated ground water basins.


Standard Water Use Rates

(Also from )
· Each ordinary household use: 0.3 acre-foot per year
· Use for four large domestic animals: 0.05 acre-foot per year
· Use for each 1,000 square feet of lawn irrigation: 0.05 acre-foot per year

Other information

State of Colorado, Office of the State Engineer
1313 Sherman Street, Room 821
State Engineer, 303-866-3581
Records section, 303-866-3447

· New well application fee: $480
· Replacement well application fee: $240 45-day turnaround
· Emergency replace well can be received in 24 hours
· Well flow rates not to exceed 15 gallons per minute
· To get your well permit information from the “records section” you need:

o Section
o Township and Range
o Quarter/Quarter
o All previous owners’ names
o Subdivision: McArthur Ranch
o Lot
o Block
o Filing