Inapplicability of the common law doctrine of riparian rights to conditions in the arid region moved the first territorial legislature of Colorado to recognize the counter doctrine of prior appropriation. In fact, the right to the water in the streams of Colorado, by prior appropriation, antedated any legislation. "It was the common law of the people, and legislation, both national and territorial, was but a recognition declaratory of the right as it had theretofore and then existed."-1 Adhering to territorial precedent, Colorado was the first state to incorporate the priority doctrine in its organic law.
Leonard P. Fox,
State Regulation of the Canal Corporation in Colorado,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol16/iss3/3