Panel will look for ways to streamline water courts |

Panel will look for ways to streamline water courts

DENVER ” Dwindling water supplies and growing demand have turned water transactions into costly ordeals that threaten to drive out smaller users, so a new panel that was announced Friday will look at ways to streamline the process.

“Anybody can get into a water case,” said Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs, who will be chairman of the panel.

But “it can get dragged out and (that can make it) hard for some of these people to stay in the case.”

Colorado Supreme Court Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey created the 21-member panel to review the state’s water courts, which oversee transfers of water rights and handle disputes over who has priority when there’s not enough water to go around.

Hobbs said water cases have become increasingly complex as growing cities buy rights from farmers and ranchers and a prolonged drought has forced some agricultural users to shut off their wells.

Issues the panel will consider include using special masters to help speed the process, assigning senior judges to help and looking for ways to reduce costs for small water users.

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