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Water Rights Dispute

Allocation of Water Supply

Issue and Goals

Three parties within a community–a homeowner’s association (HOA), a developer, and a private school–were unable to negotiate an agreement regarding their rights to their jointly allocated water supply. Their goal was to seek help with coming to an agreement to meet their needs in ways that were also acceptable to the county government.


Working as counsel for the private school, I also had a good relationship with the developer and the HOA. First, I identified each party’s needs through interviews and set up roundtable discussions to facilitate stakeholder collaboration. Applying my policy dialogue experience, I negotiated an agreement among the parties and drafted a joint allocation and operating agreement that created a phased water management plan.


  • By facilitating stakeholder collaboration in water supply management, I was able to help the affected community groups create a cooperative and sustainable water sharing plan.
  • The three parties presented their management plan to a work session of the county commissioners. The commission accepted this plan and incorporated it into their management plan as part of the comprehensive water plan for this part of the county.
  • The developer agreed to support the school’s application for a water appropriation permit. In exchange, the school agreed to support the expansion of the developer’s project, including water taps and sewer hook-ups before the board of county commissioners. The HOA gained an agreement for a water supply for its pool and lawns in exchange for supporting the allocation to the other parties with the county.
  • This agreement avoided litigation and protracted hearings before the county government by enhancing long-term cooperation and collaboration between the parties.