Getting Legal Access to Water Sources
When you think of water rights, you might think of a movie about pioneers in the old west. You probably don’t think about buying water for your farm or vineyard.
That’s because most people understand that water is a limited resource and it cannot be owned by individuals. Looking at water rights from another perspective, however, reveals an entirely different picture.
Water rights are actually a form of property ownership – one that is recognized by many states and counties all over the world. The legal access to water is called a water right, and it’s just as important as owning land or buildings.
Who Grants Water Rights?
Every state has their own set of laws regarding water rights. In some places, the state legislature can grant water rights. Other states, like Colorado, have state commissions that govern this process.
Under the Constitution, the State has an obligation to protect the natural resources within its borders. This includes water resources. That’s why every state has water laws that govern how water is used, how it’s conserved, and who can have legal access to it.
With that in mind, you can understand why water rights can be granted only to those who can demonstrate that their use of the water is beneficial.
Here are some tips for obtaining permission to take water from a local water source.
- Check with the property owner or manager. Ask if they are letting anyone take water from their property and if there is a fee involved. If the property owner or manager is unwilling to allow you to take water, you may need to search for a different water source.
- Contact the municipal water authority. Ask if they are permitting anyone to take water from their municipal water system. If the authority is willing to allow you to take water, they may require you to obtain a water right or a permit.
- Get help from a water rights attorney. A water rights attorney can help you determine if you have the right to take water from a particular water source and can provide you with the necessary paperwork to take water from a water source.
- Obtain a water right from the government. If the government is willing to allow you to take water from a water source, you will need to obtain a water right from them. This can be a difficult process, but a water right can be a valuable asset.
The central idea is to plan ahead. Communicate with authorities but only as needed. In short, have your local water lifeline in place before an emergency strikes.