Water Law

Water Law

Williams, Turner & Holmes, P.C. has always had an extensive and active water law practice. The firm’s clients include various water and irrigation districts and organizations, local governments, energy companies, farmers, ranchers, developers and individual landowners. Kirsten Kurath is experienced in all areas of water law and regularly assists clients with a variety of water rights and water related issues, including:

  • Appropriating and adjudicating new water rights;
  • Developing augmentation plans and other water supply plans to provide firm water supplies for beneficial uses;
  • Changing existing water rights to meet new and different water needs;
  • Protecting, maintaining and developing existing water rights;
  • Addressing impacts to water rights and irrigation systems resulting from changing land uses;
  • Buying and selling water rights;
  • Easements for ditches, pipelines, reservoirs and other water diversion and transmission facilities;
  • Protecting the quality of water needed to supply water rights;
  • Forming lateral ditch companies and other irrigation entities; and
  • Protecting Western Colorado water supplies for use in Western Colorado


Williams, Turner & Holmes, P.C. has a long history of involvement in major West Slope water projects and issues. This involvement includes:

  • A predecessor attorney in the firm, Silmon Smith, helped negotiate and draft Senate Document 80, which formed the basis for the creation and development of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and Green Mountain Reservoir. Since the 1950’s, attorneys in the firm have been continuously involved in the ongoing Blue River litigation in the United States District Court and Colorado State Court, which determined the relative rights of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, Green Mountain Reservoir, and Transmountain Diversion projects operated by the City and County of Denver and other East Slope municipalities.
  • Anthony W. Williams, a long-time member of the firm, served as the chief negotiator in resolving differences with East Slope entities. This resolution paved the way for the construction of Wolford Mountain Reservoir, a major source of water for various water users on the West Slope.
  • The firm handled the litigation that resulted in the award of a refill right for Taylor Park Reservoir, thereby protecting irrigation uses and environmental concerns on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers.
  • For many years the firm has represented the owners and operators of various major water projects in Western Colorado, including the operator of the Grand Valley Project, a federal reclamation project in the Grand Valley.
  • The firm has a long history of representing energy companies in the acquisition, appropriation, adjudication, and development of water rights used in the development of mineral resources such as oil, gas and oil shale.
  • The firm was actively involved in the development of the Programmatic Biological Opinion for the recovery of endangered fish in the Colorado River drainage, which allowed for the continued development of Colorado River water resources for beneficial uses while at the same time protecting endangered fish in the River.
  • The firm represented water interests in the Grand Valley of Western Colorado in negotiating the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement (CRCA).  The CRCA is a comprehensive agreement that resolved historical conflicts between Denver Water and a broad coalition of West Slope water interests and provided a framework for future cooperation between these entities.
  • Kirsten Kurath was very involved in the West Slope’s litigation with Busk-Ivanhoe, Inc. (owned by the City of Aurora) where the Colorado Supreme Court held that the right to store transmountain water in the basin of import prior to use is not an automatic incident of transmountain water rights, but rather must be reflected, or at least implied, in the decree.


Kirsten Kurath advises clients with respect to water law and related matters.

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