I am writing to support Chris Dolphin's recent letter to the editor (Herald, Feb. 16). She is the candidate for county
commissioner we need to elect because she would fight to defend landowners' rights in regard to water permits.
The Colorado Supreme Court's ruling in Vance vs. Wolfe established that the withdrawal of water from coal seams to
facilitate the production of coal-bed methane is a beneficial use" of water, and the water is subject to requirements
applicable to water wells. This ruling led to a series of reactions by the Legislature and the state engineer that have
harmed landowners' rights in our county.
With the sweep of a pen, State Engineer Dick Wolfe - of Vance vs. Wolfe - designated water under southern and
southeastern La Plata County to be nontributary." The state engineer then granted special water rights to gas
operators for the nontributary water; they no longer have to obtain consent from the landowner to acquire water under
their property. Companies have since filed applications to obtain water rights for more than 3,000 coal-bed methane
wells in La Plata County. And there's legislation pending in the House to allow companies drilling conventional gas
wells to acquire your nontributary water without filing for a well permit.
Landowners need to know how to protect themselves. Landowners have until today, to file a Statement of Opposition"
with the 6th Judicial District water court at the La Plata County Courthouse. Call 247-2304 for more information.
Fortunately, these rulings can be addressed by our county commissioners.
They have the authority, and I think the obligation, to address them one by one, but it takes more than one
commissioner to act. We need at least two, and Chris will be that second vote.
If she's elected, count on Chris to address this barrage of rulings against landowners' rights specifically, and ensure
some common-sense protections for landowners in the nontributary water zone.
Darren White, Bayfield