Panel looks to streamline water courts | AspenTimes.com

Panel looks to streamline water courts

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” Colorado’s highest-ranking state judge has formed a panel to look for ways to streamline the state’s water court system, which handles disputes and questions about how scarce water resources are used.

A 21-member panel, announced Friday, will consider training requirements for water court judges and lawyers, rules for expert testimony, ways to reduce costs for small water users and other issues.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey said the panel will make its recommendations to her by August. She will give the report to Gov. Bill Ritter and legislators.

She said the committee would “identify the issues most critical to the fairness and efficiency of the water court process.”

Mullarkey named Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs to chair the panel. Hobbs, a member of the court since 1996, is vice president of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.

Also on the panel are current and former judges, state and private-practice water engineers, representatives of the Department of Natural Resources and the attorney general, water-rights attorneys and water-rights owners.

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Colorado has seven water courts, one for each of six major water basins and one for groundwater basins. Appeals from water courts go directly to the state Supreme Court.