The Durango Herald reports BP America Production Co. and others had sought claims to nontributary groundwater, which isn't considered connected to surface streams. Water Judge Gregory Lyman said last month that state law gives landowners the right to such water under their property, so companies need landowners' consent first.
Lyman previously ruled that water produced during coal-bed methane production falls under state water laws, meaning drillers had to get well permits and follow rules governing water rights. The Colorado Supreme Court upheld his ruling and said it covers tributary groundwater.
Legislators then allowed the state engineer to craft rules on what could be determined nontributary groundwater. Lawsuits challenging the rules are pending.
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