by Gunnery Sergeant, John McClain, USMC, Retired
In Greeley Colorado, farmers are begging their government for permission to use their wells, on their property, to irrigate the crops they are growing, and about to lose in a serious drought condition. They have wells because that was what people did when they bought property for farming, and intended to water their crops so they would grow.
Some few years ago, complaints were brought against the farmers by people who live on the Platte River, and court hearings were the result, with the court finding the rights of those living on the river preceded the rights of those with wells on “their property”. The court found the testimony the use of the wells was drying up the Platte River was depriving those on the river, their right to the river water.
Right now, ground water has risen so high, basements are flooding in Greeley, septic systems are overflowing, and at the same time, the river is again at historic lows.
The court system found those on the river had “senior water rights”, and by this, established a ban on the use of their wells by the farmers, based on what was presented, but current events demonstrate with absolute clarity, the fallacy in the logic used by the courts, and the fallacious “evidence” used to convince the courts of groundwater relationship with river levels.
This year’s “snow pack” in the mountains is only 2% of the average, matching that of the last record drought of 2002, with the same results for the river.
When I look up ownership in the dictionary, I find it means I have control over what I own, and may do with it what I want, as long as I don’t interfere with another’s rights in what I do. These farmers bought land for the growing of crops, and in assuming ownership, they assumed the natural rights that go with it.
The exact reason for drilling the wells was to provide water for times when dry spells occurred. Colorado is known for its rivers, and for its snow, and science has long shown the primary source of this form of river is water produced from the snow pack on the mountains melting.
At the same time, groundwater is an accumulation of rain, collected in deep aquifers underground, and while they are occasionally linked directly to rivers, the two are usually separate systems. Unless the rainfall is large and continuous, direct connection between underground water reserves and rivers means empty reserves and running rivers. Water will not collect in underground cavities, lakes, if you will, if they are tapped directly to large flowing bodies of water.
This drought, coupled with the most recent one, ten years ago, demonstrates physically, the groundwater situation is not tied with the river system directly, and if it is indirectly, the fact the water table has risen so high while the river remains low, demonstrates the fallacy of the argument which the court accepted.
To my mind, a court decision should be accepted if it is reasonable, if it follows the facts, and follows the law. We have to consider right and wrong or we only have force and weakness, and the law of the jungle. On the other hand, when Nature demonstrates a flawed argument, we should be able to gather the people contending in the issue, show the facts, and the courts should be able to summarily discard a bad decision, made on flawed information.
If the facts were true as presented in the case which brought on the legal demand to cease using the wells, the current high ground water situation should have an overflowing river. The fact the river is low, at levels commensurate with drought, even while the water table is so high should be sufficient cause for a review of the whole case, and an immediate finding for relief for the farmers.
We have always dealt with the reluctance to “rush to judgment” by courts, and it is proper for us to fully respect the principle of “due process”, however it is equally sound principle to make precipitous decisions when it is clear an error in logic brought on an improper finding, and when the livelihoods of people are at stake, restoring their improperly reduced rights should be of the highest priority, both for principle’s cause, as well as for the sake of the rights of those were trampled over.
The farmers are appealing to the Governor for relief, they ask he overturn the court finding, and I understand how those in government are reluctant to undo what another has done, however it was never considered fully, the fact that under our law, buying a piece of land includes water rights, mineral rights, and ownership is an issue of totality, in that owning something means it belongs to the person until they do something to transfer their ownership of it to another.
The simple fact the water table is clear and present, while the river is at a drought level demonstrates to all parties, the fallacy of the whole of the former court case. When the nature of such facts is so clear, there is no excuse for doing anything less than simply vacating the whole previous decision, and discarding the whole notion of “senior water rights” as having any aspect in the issue between farmers, using their wells, and property owners unhappy with the law state of the river.
If one cannot use the property one owns, who really owns it? Agenda 21 says the whole world owns everything, and the U.N. is arbiter of who can use what. Are we willing to accede to that notion?
Copyright June12, 2012 by Gulf1