Monday, July 8, 2019

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Provo City South Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Provo City South area in the Provo River Division of the Utah Lake/Jordan River Drainage (Area 55, Book 6). The Provo City South area generally includes the area between 800 North on the north, 2000 South on the south, Utah Lake on the west, and Corral Mountain on the east (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Provo City South area
When: July 16, 2019, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Provo Recreation Center, 320 West 500 North, Provo
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Third Judicial District Court (Civil No. 365729846), the State Engineer is authorized and ordered to conduct a general determination of the rights to the use of all water, both surface and underground, within the drainage area of the Provo City South Subdivision, Provo River Division, of the Utah Lake and Jordan River drainage in Utah County. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the Provo City South area to survey existing water rights and investigate water user's claims. In light of this work, the public is invited to a public meeting. Representatives from the Division of Water Rights will be available during this time to discuss the adjudication process, review water rights within the area, and answer questions. If individuals cannot attend, but have questions regarding the adjudication process or water rights within the Lehi area, please contact the Division of Water Rights at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Assistant State Engineer)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

A live stream broadcast of the public meeting will also be available online at this link.

For more information about this meeting, click here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Metropolitan Water District v. Sorf

The Utah Supreme Court recently issued its decision in the case of Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake and Sandy v. Sorf. The primary issue in the case was enforcement of easement rights associated with a water pipeline.

Metropolitan Water District owns and operates the Salt Lake Aqueduct, a large pipeline that transports water from Deer Creek Reservoir to the Salt Lake City area. The District owns some of the land along the course of the Aqueduct and has easements along other parts of the course of the Aqueduct. Zdenek Sorf is the owner of a parcel of land that the Aqueduct crosses, and in 1946, the then-owner of his land deeded a 125-foot wide easement for the Aqueduct. The District passed regulations controlling use of the Aqueduct easements by the landowners, including a prohibition on the construction of structures or the planting of trees within the easement areas.

Mr. Sorf made improvements to his property within the boundaries of the District's easement. These improvements included a hot tub, a gazebo, garden boxes, a water feature, and a shed. The District filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin Mr. Sorf from making any more improvements within the easement area and to allow the District to remove the existing improvements. Mr. Sorf asserted that the case was not yet "ripe" because the District had no current plans to repair, replace, or reconstruct the Aqueduct across Mr. Sorf's property, and that his improvements were not interfering with the District's current operation of the Aqueduct. The district court agreed and dismissed the District's claims. The District appealed the case to the Utah Supreme Court.

The Court began its decision by noting that a dispute is ripe "when a conflict over the application of a legal provision has sharpened into an actual or imminent clash of legal rights and obligations of the parties thereto." The Court concluded that the easement dispute between the District and Mr. Sorf met this standard because the District had valid, deeded easement interests "to construct, reconstruct, operate and maintain" the Aqueduct. The Court noted that the district court had incorrectly focused on whether Mr. Sorf's improvements were interfering with the Aqueduct, and that the focus should have been on whether Mr. Sorf's improvements were interfering with the easement. Thus, the Court concluded that there was a "live dispute" that was ripe for judicial resolution.

In the end, the Court reversed the district court's dismissal and sent the case back to the district court because "the parties are both entitled to a determination of whether [Mr. Sorf's improvements] are permissible, and if not, a determination of the proper remedy."

To read the full text of the opinion, click here.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Amendment to the Southern Utah County Groundwater Management Plan

The Utah Division of Water Rights has published notice that the Utah / Goshen Valley Ground-Water Management Plan has been amended. The amendments are effective as of June 11, 2019.

To view the amended Plan, click here.

To view more information about the amendments and the amendment process for the Plan, click here.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in American Fork South Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the American Fork South area in the Provo River Division of the Utah Lake/Jordan River Drainage (Area 55, Book 5). The American Fork South area generally includes the area between 700 North (American Fork) on the north, Utah Lake on the south, 900 East (American Fork) on the east, and 1200 East (Lehi) on the west (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the American Fork South area
When: June 11, 2019, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Timpanogos High School Auditorium, 1450 North 200 East, Orem
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Third Judicial District Court (Civil No. 365729845), the State Engineer is authorized and ordered to conduct a general determination of the rights to the use of all water, both surface and underground, within the drainage area of the American Fork South Subdivision, Provo River Division, of the Utah Lake and Jordan River drainage in Utah County. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the American Fork South area to survey existing water rights and investigate water user's claims. In light of this work, the public is invited to a public meeting. Representatives from the Division of Water Rights will be available during this time to discuss the adjudication process, review water rights within the area, and answer questions. If individuals cannot attend, but have questions regarding the adjudication process or water rights within the Lehi area, please contact the Division of Water Rights at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Assistant State Engineer)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

A live stream broadcast of the public meeting will also be available online at this link.

For more information about this meeting, click here.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Public Meeting Regarding Modification of Groundwater Management Plan

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a meeting to discuss modifying the groundwater management plan for the Snyderville / Park City basin. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Snyderville / Park City basin water users
When: May 21, 2019, 4:00 pm
Where: Summit County Library - Kimball Junction Branch, 1885 W. Ute Blvd., Park City, UT
Purpose: The purpose of the meeting is to present a modification to the groundwater management plan for Snyderville/Park City Basin.  Personnel from the Division of Water Rights will be available to take all questions and comments provided by the general public and interested parties.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, but would like to provide input, please send your written comments to:
Division of Water Rights
1594 West North Temple Suite 220
PO Box 146300
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6300

Agenda:
1. Welcome/Introduction
2. Discussion on groundwater management plan modification
3. Public Questions/Comments

For additional information regarding the meeting, click here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication of South Moab Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Moab South area in the Moab Division of the Southeastern Colorado River General Adjudication (Area 05, Book 5). The boundaries of the Moab South area are shown in the map below. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Moab South area
When: April 25, 2019, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Grand Center, 182 North 500 West, Moab
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Seventh Judicial District Court (Civil No. 810704477), the State Engineer is authorized and ordered to conduct a general determination of the rights to the use of all water, both surface and underground, within the drainage area of the Moab South Subdivision, Moab Division of the Southeastern Colorado River General Adjudication. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the Moab South area to survey existing water rights and investigate water user's claims. In light of this work, the public is invited to a public meeting. Representatives from the Division of Water Rights will be available during this time to discuss the adjudication process, review water rights within the area, and answer questions. If individuals cannot attend, but have questions regarding the adjudication process or water rights within the Moab South area, please contact the Division of Water Rights at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Assistant State Engineer)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

A live stream broadcast of the public meeting will also be available online at this link.

For more information about this meeting, click here.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Water Rights Certification Course

The Rural Water Association of Utah, in conjunction with the Utah Division of Water Rights, offers a two-day water rights training course. The course covers a variety of water right topics, including priority, change applications, water rights vs. water shares, water right title, well regulations, and much more. At the end of the training course, there is a certification exam that you can take.

This course is very informative, and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about Utah water rights.

The course is being offered on April 18-19, 2019. It will be held in Salt Lake City, but will also be broadcast to Cedar City. For more information about the course, click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Retirement of Regional Engineer Bob Leake

After more than 33 years working that the Utah Division of Water Rights, Regional Engineer Robert (Bob) Leake with be retiring on April 1, 2019. Bob has been working as the Regional Engineer for the Eastern Regional Office in Vernal. The Division will be hosting a retirement celebration on March 25, 2019 from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm at the Vernal office (318 North Vernal Avenue).

Thank you, Bob, for your many years of service!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Proposed Amendment to Southern Utah Valley Groundwater Plan

The Utah Division of Water Rights has issued notice of a proposed amendment to the Utah/Goshen Valley Ground-Water Management Plan. The amendment involves the Ensign-Bickford water contamination plume near Mapleton. Pursuant to the notice, the amendment will not be adopted for at least 60 days to allow for comments.

To read the proposed amendment, and for other related information, click here.

Monday, March 4, 2019

2019 Legislative Update - part 2

Since the beginning of the 2019 legislative session, more water-related bills have been introduced. This post supplements my original post about 2019 legislation.

HB 355 - Water General Adjudication Amendments
Rep. Joel Ferry
House Bill 355 amends statutes regarding small applications of water and general adjudications. The bill modifies Utah Code section 73-3-5.6, which allows for the filing of an Affidavit of Beneficial Use to reinstate a lapsed application for a small amount of water. The bill also provides that an Affidavit of Beneficial Use cannot be used to reinstate a water right if the water right lapsed before the State Engineer issued a Notice to File Statement of Water User's Claim and the water right owner did not file a Water User's Claim on the water right. The bill also clarifies that there is a right of appeal to the Utah Supreme Court for any district court order that resolves an objection in a general adjudication. The bill also provides a form summons for the State Engineer to use in giving published notice to potential water claimants in a general adjudication.

HB 360 - School Water Testing Requirements
Rep. Stephen G. Handy
House Bill 360 requires the Drinking Water Board to make administrative rules regarding water testing in schools and child care centers. The rules are to (1) establish a reduction of lead in drinking water in schools and child care centers; (2) require schools to create written plans regarding lead concentration in their water supply; (3) establish the lead level requiring mitigation; and (4) determine whether a school is required to undertake mitigation. The bill also establishes the Lead Sampling Fund, with an initial outlay of $5 million, to pay schools for costs incurred in complying with the requirements.

HB 377 - Capitol Hill Water Usage Amendments
Rep. Joel K. Briscoe
House Bill 377 requires the State Capitol Preservation Board to develop a water management plan and conduct an analysis of water use at the Capitol Hill complex. The bill also provides that the Board may implement water conservation measures at the Capitol Hill complex, consult with the Division of Water Resources, and appoint a water conservation specialist.

HB 452 - Water Facilities Amendments
Rep. Logan Wilde
House Bill 452 amends Utah Code section 73-1-14 regarding penalties for interfering with water facilities and Utah Code section 73-1-15 regarding penalties for obstructing water facilities. The bill maintains the purpose of the sections to prohibit those without rights from obstructing and interfering with ditches, pipelines, canals, reservoirs, storage tanks, and other water facilities, but expands and provides additional detail regarding these sections.

HB 456 - Water Amendments for Institutions of Higher Education
Rep. Stephen G. Handy
House Bill 456 amended Utah Code section 73-1-4 regarding abandonment and forfeiture of water rights. Specifically, this bill provides that institutions of higher education qualify as public water suppliers that are protected from claims of nonuse and forfeiture.

HCR 10 - Concurrent Resolution to Address Declining Water Levels of the Great Salt Lake
Rep. Timothy D. Hawkes
House Concurrent Resolution 10 points out the importance of the Great Salt Lake and the potential impacts currently facing the lake due to declining water levels. The Resolution provides that there should be an overall policy that supports effective administration of water flow to the Great Salt Lake to maintain or increase lake levels, while balancing economic, social, and environmental needs. The Department of Natural Resources is encouraged to collaboratively engage with a wide range of stakeholders to develop policy recommendations and other solutions, and to present them to the legislature.

HCR 18 - Concurrent Resolution Concerning Bear Lake
Rep. Logan Wilde
House Concurrent Resolution 18 recognizes the characteristics, benefits, and challenges to Bear Lake and urges solutions to address challenges to Bear Lake, including water quality, invasive species, lakebed management, and enhancement of irrigation water storage and supply functions. The Resolution also encourages the State's continued cooperation with Idaho to develop joint expectations regarding the lake. The Resolution also encourages the participation of stakeholders to develop recommendations to protect and enhance the lake.

SB 189 - Temporary Land Use Regulation Amendments
Sen. Ralph Okerlund
Senate Bill 189 provides that a county of the fifth or sixth class can enact an ordinance establishing a temporary land use regulation prohibiting construction, subdivision approval, and other development activities within an area that is the subject of a study of water availability, capacity, or quality that is overseen by the Division of Water Rights.

SB 214 - Property Tax Relief Modifications
Sen. Lincoln Fillmore
Senate Bill 214 places limitations on the amount of property tax that can be collected by water conservancy districts. Specifically, property taxes cannot exceed 15% of a district's total annual revenues. The bill excludes large districts that comprises more than five counties. A district can only exceed the limitation if approved in an election by at least 75% of district voters. The bill also prohibits districts from issuing bonds secured by property tax revenue.

SCR 9 - Concurrent Resolution Regarding Navajo Water Rights Settlement Agreement
Sen. David P. Hinkins
Senate Concurrent Resolution 9 declares support for the negotiated settlement of federal reserved water right claims, particularly the Settlement Agreement of Reserved Water Rights between the State of Utah and the Navajo Nation.