Eminent domain involves the acquisition of private property by public entities for public projects or by private parties for private use under specific circumstances. Our firm represents clients both acquiring the property and whose property is being acquired.
When private property is taken by eminent domain, the owner is entitled to just compensation. Just compensation in Colorado includes payment to the owner for the reasonable market value of the property acquired as well as for damages to the remainder; and sometimes special benefits to the owner’s property can offset damages and a portion of the compensation for the property acquired.
Water rights are a separate and distinct form of property right in Colorado. Rights to use the water that flows within and is connected to the surface streams of Colorado are obtained by adjudication of a water right before one of the Water Courts in the State.
After a water right has been adjudicated it is a vested property right that may be sold or otherwise alienated like any other real property. If the owner of a water right wishes to make a new or different use of the water right from that originally decreed, any such changes of the water right must be approved by the Water Court. Water Court approval is also required for the manipulation of water rights, i.e. the right to exchange water (i.e. move it upstream), or to provide for a plan for augmentation (withdrawing water at one particular time and location upon the duty to replace it at another time and location).