. Exemptions - presumptions - legislative declaration.
(1) The provisions of this article, except for sections 37-92-201 and 37-92-202, shall not be applicable to:
(a) Designated ground water basins as defined and established by article 90 of this title;
(b) Wells not exceeding fifteen gallons per minute of production and used for ordinary household purposes, fire protection, the watering of poultry, domestic animals, and livestock on farms and ranches and for the irrigation of not over one acre of home gardens and lawns but not used for more than three single-family dwellings;
(c) Wells not exceeding fifteen gallons per minute of production and used for drinking and sanitary facilities in individual commercial businesses;
(d) Wells to be used exclusively for fire-fighting purposes if said wells are capped, locked, and available for use only in fighting fires;
(e) Wells not exceeding fifty gallons per minute which are in production as of May 22, 1971, and were and are used for ordinary household purposes for not more than three single-family dwellings, fire protection, the watering of poultry, domestic animals, and livestock on farms and ranches and for the irrigation of not over one acre of gardens and lawns; and
(f) Wells to be used exclusively for monitoring and observation purposes if said wells are capped and locked and used only to monitor water levels or for water quality sampling.
(2) With respect to applications filed prior to May 8, 1972, the state engineer shall issue a permit for the construction of wells specified in subsection (1) of this section without regard to the provisions of section 37-90-137 (2) and (3) upon submission of an application which shall be accompanied by a fee of five dollars. It is the legislative intent that the exemption in subsection (1) of this section is for an applicant to obtain a water supply for his own use.
(3) (a) Wells of the type described in paragraphs (b) to (d) of subsection (1) of this section may be constructed only upon the issuance of a permit in accordance with the provisions of this subsection (3). A person desiring to use such a well shall submit an application for a permit accompanied by a fee of twenty dollars for an application under paragraph (c) of this subsection (3) and a fee of sixty dollars for an application under paragraph (b) of this subsection (3).
(b) (I) With respect to applications filed on and after May 8, 1972, the state engineer shall first make a determination as to whether or not the exercise of the requested permit will materially injure the vested water rights of others or any other existing well, subject to the provisions of subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (b). If the state engineer finds that the vested water rights of others or any other existing well will be materially injured, he shall deny the permit. Otherwise, the permit shall be issued, and it shall set forth such conditions for drilling, casing, equipping, and using the well as are reasonably necessary to prevent waste, pollution, or material injury to existing rights. The state engineer shall endorse upon the application the date of its receipt, file and preserve such application, and make a record of such receipt and the issuance of the permit in his office, so indexed as to be useful in determining the extent of the uses made from various ground water sources.
(II) (A) If a permit is sought by a user for a well exempted under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section which will be the only well on a residential site, which well will be used solely for ordinary household purposes inside a single-family dwelling and will not be used for irrigation or will be the only well on a tract of land of thirty-five acres or more or will be the only well on a cluster development lot, serving one single-family residence, where the ratio of water usage in the cluster development does not exceed one acre-foot of annual withdrawals for each thirty-five acres within the cluster development and will be used solely for the purposes specified in paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of this section, and the return flow from such uses shall be returned to the same stream system in which the well is located, there shall be a presumption that there will not be material injury to the vested water rights of others or to any other existing well resulting from such well, which presumption may be rebutted by evidence sufficient to show such material injury.
(B) and (C) (Deleted by amendment, L. 93, p. 2100, § 1, effective July 1, 1993.)
(D) Nothing in this section shall be construed to preclude the state engineer from requiring metering of withdrawals, periodic reporting of such withdrawals, and cessation of withdrawals that exceed one acre-foot of water for each thirty-five acres within a cluster development.
(III) If the application is for a well, as defined in subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (b), which will be located in a subdivision, as defined in section 30-28-101 (10), C.R.S., and approved on or after June 1, 1972, pursuant to article 28 of title 30, C.R.S., for which the water supply plan has not been recommended for approval by the state engineer, the cumulative effect of all such wells in the subdivision shall be considered in determining material injury.
(c) (I) If any person wishes to relocate an existing well of the type specified in paragraphs (b) to (e) of subsection (1) of this section, such person shall file an application pursuant to this subsection (3) for the construction of a well and shall state in such application such person's intent to abandon the existing well which is to be relocated.
(II) (A) If such relocated well will not change substantially the usage of water which can lawfully be made by means of the existing well, a permit to construct and use the relocated well shall be issued, and the existing well shall be abandoned within ninety days after the completion of the relocated well.
(B) For purposes of this subparagraph (II), absent a showing by a preponderance of the evidence, a relocated well will be presumed not to change substantially the usage of water if the existing well was constructed pursuant to a permit issued by the state engineer, the location of the relocated well will be within two hundred feet of the existing well, the well will be constructed into the same aquifer, the historical use of water from the well will not change, the annual volume of use of the relocated well will be the same as or less than the annual permitted volume of use of the existing well, and the gallons per minute flow of the relocated well will be the same as or less than the permitted gallons per minute flow of the existing well.
(d) Wells for which permits have been granted or may be granted must be constructed within two years after the permit is issued which time may be extended for successive years at the discretion of the state engineer for good cause shown.
(e) The state engineer shall act upon an application filed under this subsection (3) within forty-five days after such filing and shall support his ruling with a written statement of the basis therefor, and the provisions of article 4 of title 24, C.R.S., shall apply.
(f) Any person aggrieved by a decision of the state engineer granting or denying an application filed under this subsection (3) may within thirty days after such decision file a petition for review with the water clerk of the water division in which the well is located. Upon receipt of such petition, the water judge of said water division shall promptly conduct such hearings as are necessary to determine whether or not the decision of the state engineer shall be upheld. In any case in which the state engineer's decision is reversed, the water judge shall order the state engineer to grant or to deny the application, as such reversal may require, and may specify such terms and conditions as are appropriate. Appeals from any decision of the water judge shall be made as in other civil actions.
(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of the introductory portion of subsection (1) of this section, water rights for wells of the type specified in paragraphs (b) to (e) of said subsection (1) may be determined pursuant to sections 37-92-302 to 37-92-306; except that the original priority date of any such well may be awarded regardless of the date of application therefor.
(5) Any wells exempted by this section that were put to beneficial use prior to May 8, 1972, and any wells that were used exclusively for monitoring and observation purposes prior to August 1, 1988, not of record in the office of the state engineer may be recorded in that office upon written application, payment of a processing fee of sixty dollars, and permit approval. The record shall include the date the water is claimed to have been appropriated or first put to beneficial use.
(6) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the state of Colorado that the exemptions set forth in this section are intended to allow citizens to obtain a water supply in less densely populated areas for in-house and domestic animal uses where other water supplies are not available. It is not the intent that these wells be used to cause material injury to prior vested water rights, and, wherever possible, persons seeking the use of such individual wells may be required to develop plans for augmentation pursuant to section 37-92-302 or to develop other replacement plans acceptable to the state engineer.
(7) Notwithstanding the amount specified for any fee in this section, the state engineer by rule or as otherwise provided by law may reduce the amount of one or more of the fees if necessary pursuant to section 24-75-402 (3), C.R.S., to reduce the uncommitted reserves of the fund to which all or any portion of one or more of the fees is credited. After the uncommitted reserves of the fund are sufficiently reduced, the state engineer by rule or as otherwise provided by law may increase the amount of one or more of the fees as provided in section 24-75-402 (4), C.R.S.