Thursday, June 18, 2015

Living history

I was locked out one day and sat at the front entrance awaiting someone who had the new key to the condo. Not a bad view, eh?

Bridge to main entrance.
This is the North Boulder Farmers' Ditch, built in 1862.  This is not the ditch that started the madness of the doctrine of prior appropriation of western states' water law.  That honor goes to nearby Left Hand Ditch, which transferred water from St Vrain to James Creek in Left Hand Canyon.
The North Boulder Farmers' Ditch entering the property.
The ditches were built about the same time, though.
The modernist building straddles the ditch.
Read more about Boulder's ditches at The Ditch Project and view the interactive map.  (The bottom three pictures were taken off the real estate listing for this condo.)
Is it a coincidence that the Dairy Center for the Arts lies on the other side of this fence?
The case went all the way up to the Colorado Supreme Court.  The court ruled in favor of the water diverters, thus establishing the right of prior appropriation of Colorado water rights.

Riparian rights means that the owners of land adjacent to water share the water equally.  Prior appropriation means that the first person to put the water to "beneficial use" and to file a paper claim to the water owns the water rights.

Eastern states tend to follow Riparian rights.  Western states tend to follow prior appropriation or "first in use, first in right" doctrine.

Wildlife doesn't count as beneficial use.  Use by native Americans and other non-whites also seldom counts.  There's more paper water than real water in the west, particularly during normal and dry years.

This doctrine is being tested right now in California as even senior CA water rights holders there have been ordered to stop drawing water from CA rivers.

I say good riddance.  I'm not a fan of John Locke and his worshippers.  They have a planet-sized blind spot regarding who does the real work and who reaps the benefits of work.  Water and the laws of physics don't give a f*ck about John Locke and neither do I.

A lively history about the St Vrain-Left Hand water war:
The Battle that Wrought Colorado's Water Law


  1. speaking of water and the laws of physics, you have probably heard what the water buffaloes say -
    "in the East, water flows downhill. In the West, it flows towards money."

    1. No, I haven't heard that one before, but it is so TRUE!


Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.