The Colorado Supreme Court ruled today that state officials exceeded their authority when they recommended less water for a kayak course than the backers requested, marking a victory for the surging water recreation industry.

The ruling said the Colorado Water Conservation Board ignored state law and its own rules in its recommendation for a whitewater course on the Gunnison River. The court ordered a Water Court judge to send the case back to the board for proper analysis.

The ruling is expected to help clarify a 2001 state law allowing manufactured whitewater courses to have enough water for a “reasonable recreation experience” without jeopardizing the rights of upstream users.

“The bottom line is that kayak courses are here to stay, a lot of people are doing these, they will get water rights,” said water lawyer Steve Sims, a former assistant attorney general who helped craft the law.

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Update on Colorado Ruling – March 23