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Artesian Power! How to Prepare For the Coming Groundwater Revolution

Kenneth J. Burke, Kathleen M. Kulasza, Proceedings of 28th Annual Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Institute (1982)

One of the most critical problems facing the western states today is how to obtain sufficient water to support an increasing population and to supply growing mineral and industrial development. As competition for existing water supplies has increased, thereby threatening to reduce the supplies available for traditional agricultural and domestic uses, the increased demand has resulted in a search for new supplies of water with an intensity that equals and perhaps surpasses the search for new supplies of energy. Increasingly, the emphasis has turned to the development of groundwater, which in turn has posed new problems. As the competing claimants scramble to establish their rights, the legal system must respond innovatively to issues which were inadequately answered when the competition was not so intense.

This paper will address a number of the issues raised by the heightened demands on groundwater resources, specifically, those groundwaters known as artesian, and [1346] will discuss various legal responses to those issues. The focus will be the Colorado experience, as that is the forum with which the authors are most familiar. The paper will begin with an analysis of the unique characteristics of artesian waters, in order to facilitate an understanding of why special rules should and do apply. The paper will then survey the history of the use and regulation of artesi