Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report Page: 97 of 222
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The Commission regulates the permitting system established for acquiring
water rights. Like the permit associated with groundwater tributary to a stream, an
applicant must first secure a conditional permit and put the water to a beneficial use
before securing the final right to appropriate. Perfecting appropriative rights in a
groundwater aquifer, however, does not guarantee the driller that the pumping level at
the time he perfected his water rights will be maintained in the future. The Ground-
water Management Act only provides for protection of prior appropriations and main-
tenance of "reasonable" groundwater levels (Colo. Rev. Stat., 1973, 37-90-102).
Note that it is the Groundwater Commission which grants the permit.
The permit is issued only if the Commission finds that: 1) there is unappropriated
water; 2) senior rights will not unreasonably be impaired; and 3) the new right will not
cause unreasonable waste.
No further discussion of water rights related to designated groundwater
basins is appropriate. There are no such basins located within the San Luis Valley. (The
Closed Basin project is not a designated basin, but a special project operated in con-
junction with the federal government.)
The final category of groundwater is that water which is not tributary to
a stream and not in a designated groundwater basin. To construct a well in this area, an
applicant must secure a permit from the State Engineer. Again, the -applicant must
persuade the State Engineer that there is unappropriated water available and that the
well will not interfere with the rights vested in others.
However, in making his determination, the State Engineer is constrained
to consider only that quantity of water underlying the land owned by applicant as being
appropriable. Moreover, the minimum useful life of the aquifer is presumed to be
100 years, assuming no substantial artificial recharge within that period (Olpin et al.,
The net effect is to limit pumping from these deep
aquifers in any given year to 1 percent of the water
stored under the applicable area. Any water derived
from geothermal sources would probably fall into
this category, and this production of geothermal
resources which can be classified as groundwater by
the State Engineer will be limited by the Colorado
Ground Water Management Act (Schlauch & Worces-
If it were not possible to appropriate or to purchase groundwater near the
facility and yet water were needed for its operation, one remaining option would be to
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Hewlett, E.M.; Erickson, M.V.; Ferguson, C.D.; Sherwood, P.B.; Boswell, B.S.; Walter, K.M. et al. Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report, report, July 1, 1983; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874948/m1/97/: accessed May 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.