Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Public Meeting Regarding Water Right Exchange Policy Near Kamas

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss a proposed update to the water exchange policy for the Garff Ranch area near Kamas, Utah. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Garff Ranch area (approximately 2.5 miles west of Kamas, near the intersection of State Highway 248 and Democrat Alley)
When: March 1, 2018, 6:00 pm
Where: Kamas City Hall, 170 North Main, Kamas, Utah
Purpose: The purpose of the meeting is to present a proposed update to the interim exchange policy for the Garff Ranch area, located approximately 2.5 miles west of Kamas City. Representatives from the Division of Water Rights will be available to answer questions and receive comments provided by the general public and interested parties.
Agenda:
Presenting: Kent Jones, State Engineer, and Michael Drake, Regional Engineer
1.  Introduction
2.  Policy background
3.  Reason for update
4.  Proposed policy
5.  Public questions and comments
Materials:
1.  Existing Policy Memorandum
2.  Area 35 Policy Page
Comments:
If you would like to provide input, please send written comments to:
Utah Division of Water Rights
Attn: Garff Ranch Exchange Policy
PO Box 146300
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-6300
waterrights@utah.gov

For more information regarding the meeting, click here.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in West Big Cottonwood Creek Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the West Big Cottonwood Creek area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 17). The West Big Cottonwood Creek area generally includes the are between 3900 South on the north, 4800 South on the south, Main Street on the west, and 1300 East on the east. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the West Big Cottonwood Creek area
When: February 21, 2018, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1040, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Third Judicial District Court (Civil No. 365729834), 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 West Big Cottonwood Creek Subdivision, Salt Lake County East Division, of the Utah Lake and Jordan River drainage in Salt Lake County. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the Holladay 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 West Big Cottonwood Creek area, please contact the Division at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
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.

Friday, January 26, 2018

New Interface for Monitoring Water Claims Filed in General Adjudications

The Utah Division of Water Rights has just released a new webpage that acts as an interface to provide more transparency and information regarding ongoing general adjudications of water rights. The webpage allows users to check on individual water claims filed in the various ongoing adjudication areas. The webpage shows when Notices to File Claims were filed by the Division and the associated deadlines for filing claims. The webpage also shows when each claim was filed, when the Division performed a field review of the claim, and when the Division issued its State Engineer's Recommendation for the claim. This new tool will be very helpful in allowing water users to track the status of their water claims and ensure that claims are received and processed by the Division.


To access the webpage, click here.

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Legislative Preview

The 2018 General Session of the Utah Legislature begins today and runs through March 8th.  Below are summaries of the water-related bills that will be considered during the legislative session.
 
HOUSE BILLS
 
HB 60 - Water Commissioner Amendments
Rep. Scott Chew
House Bill 60 exempts the State Engineer from the Utah Procurement Code with respect to the Water Commissioner Fund, but requires the State Engineer to make administrative rules governing the use of the Fund. The bill also clarifies and expands the items that can be paid from the Fund, including benefits for commissioners, expenses approved by a distribution system committee, and administration expenses of a distribution system committee. This bill is nearly identical to HB 225 that was introduced in the 2017 legislative session, but did not pass.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
HB 66 - Local Government Modifications
Rep. Stephen G. Handy
This bill seeks to eliminate the need for a local district board of trustees to have an odd number of board members if the local district has more than nine board members.  For improvement districts, this bill requires that the number of municipalities in an improvement must be the number of municipalities in the improvement district if there are more than nine municipalities in the district or there are an odd number of municipalities in the improvement district.  This bill also requires the number of included municipalities in an improvement district plus one if there is an even number of municipalities included and there are less than nine municipalities.  Finally, the bill requires the number of municipalities plus two if there are an odd number of municipalities in the improvement district and the total number is less than nine municipalities.
Click here to read a full text of the bill 

HB 73 - Instream Flow Water Rights Amendments
Rep. Tim Hawkes
House Bill 78 would remove the current sunset provision the Legislature enacted when it created Section 73-3-30(3), which authorized fishing groups to file fixed time change applications to provide instream flows for the Bonneville cutthroat, the Colorado River cutthroat, and the Yellowstone cutthroat. The program is currently set to expire on December 31, 2018.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
HB 103 - Water Conservation Amendments
Rep. Gage Froerer
House Bill 103 modifies water conservation plan requirements in Utah Code section 73-10-32. Each water conservancy district, each water district that provides culinary or secondary water to 500 or more connections, and each retail water provider that provides culinary or secondary water to 500 or more connections is required to have a water conservation plan. These plans must include goals for reduction in residential, commercial, and industrial uses, as well as water conservation measures for these same uses plus landscaping. The bill also changes some recommended components of a water conservation plan into required components, such as information regarding the installation of water efficient fixtures and appliances; retail water rate structures designed to encourage conservation; and existing or proposed regulations designed to encourage conservation, including restrictions on grass landscaping. Districts and retail water providers cannot receive State funds for water development unless they have a compliant water conservation plan in place. This bill is similar to HB 304 that was introduced in the 2017 legislative session, but did not pass.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
HB 124 - Water Holdings Accountability and Transparency Amendments
Rep. Kim Coleman
This bill would require cities and special service districts that supply water outside of their jurisdictional boundaries to post the following information on their website and provide it to the State Engineer: (1) a legal description and map of the service are served; (2) the cost of water assessed from users; and (3) other information regarding the water right (decree number, certificate number, point of diversion, approved uses, etc.). Rep. Coleman has indicated that the legislation is intended to implement, in part, some of the recommendations in the 2017 Utah Water Strategy, which called for improved water data and information. She also reports that the legislation seeks to provide greater transparency regarding surplus water contracts in which cities, particularly Salt Lake City, allow users outside of their boundaries to contract on a temporary basis for the use of municipal water rights. Some have expressed concern about the use of temporary contracts to supply water for permanent developments. The use of surplus water contracts, however, stems in part from Article XI, Section 6 of the Utah Constitution, which prohibits municipal corporations from selling or permanently disposing of their water rights. Notably, although HB 124 would apply to special service districts, as currently drafted it would not apply to the other types of local districts that supply water.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
HB 135 - Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Amendments
Rep. Mike Noel
HB 135 would remove longstanding municipal authority under Section 10-8-15 to enact protections outside of their boundaries to protect waterworks and prevent pollution. Currently, under Section 18-1-15, cities of the first class can exercise this extraterritorial jurisdiction over the entire applicable watershed. Smaller cities have extraterritorial jurisdiction for 15 miles above their point of diversion and for a distance of 300 feet on each side of the watercourse. The legislation would authorize the Department of Environmental Quality to establish standards and administer controls to maintain water quality in watersheds to protect human health and for the construction and operation of municipal waterworks located outside of a city's limits. According to Rep. Noel, this extraterritorial jurisdiction is no longer needed and is a duplicative regulation in light of state and federal environmental protection programs, which were enacted decades after cities received the extraterritorial jurisdiction embodied in Section 10-8-15. Property rights advocates have also accused cities, particularly Salt Lake City, of using this authority improperly to stop or limit development. Officials from the Department of Environmental Quality, however, indicated at a recent meeting of the Executive Water Task Force that they lack the land management authority cities have under the current law to protect municipal water sources.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
HB 142 - Impact Fee Amendments
Rep. Derrin Owens
House Bill 142 adds "natural gas facilities" to the list of facilities for which impact fees may be collected under Utah's Impact Fees Act.  The Bill refers to Section 58-55-308.1 of the Code for the definition of "natural gas facilities," which defines such facilities as "one or more natural gas mains [or] one or more natural gas service lines" or a combination of both.  It also includes "any necessary appurtenant facilities."  The "service lines" are the laterals that run from a main line to a customer's meter.  So, under this amendment, if "natural gas facilities" are included in the duly adopted impact fees facility plan, analysis, and enactment, then impact fees may be assessed, collected, and expended on those natural gas facilities, up to the meters of the ultimate consumers.
Click here to read a full text of the bill

SENATE BILLS
 
SB 28 - Local Government and Limited Purpose Entity Registry
Sen. Deidre Henderson
SB 28 would require all government entities that are not part of the state executive, legislative, and judicial branches, including all counties, cities, and local districts, to register with the lieutenant governor. In turn, the lieutenant governor would establish registration and renewal fees to create, administer, and maintain the registry. The bill would also authorize the state auditor to withhold certain state funds and property tax disbursements, as well as prohibit access to certain funds, for noncompliance with the registry requirements.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
SB 29 - County Listing of Local Government and Limited Purpose Entities
Sen. Deidre Henderson
SB 29 is a companion bill to SB 28. Starting on July 1, 2019, it would require each county to list on its website the following information regarding the local government entities that operate within the county's boundaries: (1) the entity's name; (2) the type of entity; (3) the entity's governmental function; (4) the entity's contact information; (5) the members of the entity's governing body; (6) the entity's sources of revenue; and (7) if the entity is an assessment area, information regarding the assessment area's creation, purpose, and boundaries.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
Senate Bill 34: Legislative Water Development Commission Amendments
Sen. Margaret Dayton
This bill seeks to remove a statutory "sunset provision" for Title 73, Chapter 7 of the Utah Code, which governs the Utah Legislative Water Development Commission. The current repeal date is December 31, 2018, but this bill would remove the repeal date entirely. The bill also allows the Commission to meet up to six times per calendar year without requiring approval from the Legislative Management Committee.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
Senate Bill 35: Water Right of Trout Habitat Repeal Date Extension
Sen. Allen Christensen
This bill seeks to extend a statutory "sunset provision" for instream flow water rights for trout habitat established under Utah Code section 73-3-30(3). The current repeal date is December 31, 2018, but this bill would extend the repeal date until December 31, 2019.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
SB45 - Diligence Claims
Sen. Margaret Dayton
Those who file diligence claims in the future will be well advised to provide as much evidence as possible of pre-1903 beneficial use if SB45 becomes law. SB45 amends UCA §73-5-13(5)(b) to require the State Engineer to opine on whether the water under the diligence claim was actually put to beneficial use prior to 1903. This opinion will be included in the report the State Engineer prepares for the diligence claim.
What this means is if you are filing a diligence claim you should provide all available information as to pre-1903 water use with the diligence claim. You should not expect the State Engineer to undertake an exhaustive investigation of your historic water use. Such an expectation is wholly unrealistic and will likely result in a damaging determination that pre-1903 beneficial use did not occur.
As we get farther from 1903, diligence claims are becoming both rarer and more suspect. Unless the claimant provides detailed information supporting pre-1903 water use, the expected conclusion in the state engineer's report is most likely going to be that there is no evidence of pre-1903 beneficial water use, the basic requirement for all diligence claims. This could lead to a legal challenge to the diligence claim and potential loss of the water right.
Click here to read a full text of the bill
 
SB 61 Water Rights Adjudication Amendments
Sen. Margaret Dayton
Senate Bill 61 instructs the state engineer to return a statement of claim to the claimant without further notice of the statement of claim is not filed in time.  Similarly, if an untimely statement of claim is filed with the court, the state engineer will not take further action on that statement of claim unless the claimant is excused by circumstances beyond the claimant's control, mistake, or any other reason justifying relief.  SB 61 also would permit the state engineer to file one or more addenda to one or more proposed determinations, if the state engineer does the following: files the addendum with the court; in the preamble, provides an explanation of the issues addressed in the addendum; serves the addendum on each owner of record, according to the state engineer's records, of a perfected water right authorizing the diversion of water from within the area, division, or subdivision covered by the addendum; and holds a public meeting.
Click here to read a full text of the bill

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Holladay Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Holladay area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 16). The Holladay area generally includes the are between 3900 South on the north, Walker Lane on the south, 1300 East on the west, and I-215 on the east. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Holladay area
When: January 24, 2018, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1040, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Third Judicial District Court (Civil No. 365729833), 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 Holladay Subdivision, Salt Lake County East Division, of the Utah Lake and Jordan River drainage in Salt Lake County. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the Holladay 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 Holladay area, please contact the Division at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
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 the meeting, click here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Training on Aquifer Storage and Recovery

The Division of Water Rights will be hosting a training session on navigating the permitting process for aquifer storage and recovery ("ASR") projects. The following information comes from the Division's notice regarding the training session.

Who:Entities who have current or would like to investigate ASR projects. Consultants who assist in the permitting, design, or construction of ASR projects.
When:February 21, 2018, 9:00 a.m.
Where:Department of Natural Resources, Room 1040
1594 W. North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Purpose:This joint training held by the Utah Divisions of Water Rights, Water Quality, Drinking Water and the Utah Geological Service focuses on Aquifer Storage And Recovery. It will expound on how to obtain the necessary permits and how to successfully plan and implement a pilot project. The divisions will also touch on the ways that they are collaborating to ensure that this program is strategic and successful and will answer questions.
Agenda:1. Water Rights ASR Perming Process - James Greer, PE
2. Utah Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program - Candace Cady, MS, PG
3. Drinking Water Requirements - Ying-Ying Macauley, MS, PE
4. Design and Implementation of an ASR pilot project - Paul Inkenbrandt, PG

Please RSVP by e-mailing teresawilhelmsen@utah.gov to reserve a seat.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning Groundwater Policies in Box Elder County

The Utah Division of Water Rights has announced a public meeting regarding an update to the groundwater appropriation policies for the Malad and Bear River drainages within Box Elder County. The information below comes from the meeting notice.

What: Public meeting
Who: Water users in the Malad and Bear River drainages within Box Elder County
When: 3:00 pm on January 10, 2018
Where: Bear River Water Conservancy District, 102 West Forest Street, Brigham City, Utah, 435-723-7034
Purpose: The purpose of the meeting is to present a proposed update to the interim groundwater appropriation policy for the Malad and Bear River drainages within Box Elder County. Personnel from the Division of Water Rights will be available to answer all questions and receive 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
1780 North Research Parkway, Suite 104
North Logan, UT 84341
435-752-8755

Agenda:
1. Introduction - Kent Jones, State Engineer
2. Summary of hydrogeologic information - James Greer, Assistant State Engineer
3. Policy update - Will Atkin, Regional Engineer
4. Public questions/comments

A map of the Malad and Bear River Groundwater Policy Area is available here.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Utah Stream Access Coalition v. Orange Street Development

The Utah Supreme Court recently issued its decision in Utah Stream Access Coalition v. Orange Street Development. This case focuses on the interpretation of navigability under the Public Water Access Act.

In the 2008 decision in Conatser v. Johnson, the Utah Supreme Court established a broad public easement to utilize the beds of Utah's waterways for recreational purposes. In response to this decision, the Utah legislature adopted the Public Water Access Act in 2010. The Act placed restrictions on the broad easement recognized under Conatser. Specifically, the Act restricted recreational access to water on public property and to waterways that are navigable.

In 2011, Utah Stream Access Coalition ("USAC") filed a lawsuit against Orange Street and other landowners along a one-mile stretch of the Weber River. USAC asserted that the stretch of river was navigable under the Act, and therefore open to recreational access. Following a four-day trial, the district court issued a decision agreeing with USAC's position. The district court concluded that the section of the river was navigable, and the court issued an injunction preventing the landowners and the State from interfering with the public's recreational access to the one-mile section of the river. The district court also determined that the State owned the bed of the river section. Orange Street Development appealed the decision to the Utah Supreme Court.

Orange Street first argued that the district court applied the wrong test for navigability. The district court had applied the test commonly referred to as the "navigability-for-title" test, which is whether waterways were, at the time of statehood, "used or ... susceptible of being used in [its] ordinary condition, as highways of commerce, over which trade and travel are or may be conducted in the customary modes of trade and travel on water." The Supreme Court concluded that this test had been adopted into the Act, as shown by the language of the Act that a waterway is navigable if it "is useful for commerce and has a useful capacity as a public highway of transportation." The Supreme Court therefore held that the district court had employed the correct standard for navigability.

Orange Street also argued that the district court had incorrectly applied the facts of the case to the navigability test. The Supreme Court disagreed, and noted the testimony and evidence that had been presented to the district court showing that the Weber River had been used for regular log drives to supply wood for railroad construction, mining timbers, and sawmills. The Supreme Court determined that this evidence was sufficient to support the district court's determination that the Weber River was used as a highway of commerce, and is therefore navigable.

The Supreme Court did disagree with the district court's decision in one regard. The Supreme Court held that because the parties had specifically agreed that the question of title to the bed of the river was not at issue in the case, the district court erred when it made the determination that the State owned the bed of the river. The Supreme Court therefore reversed on this point, but affirmed the remainder of the district court's decision that the one-mile stretch of the Weber River was navigable, as defined by the Act, and therefore open to public recreational access.

To read the full opinion, click here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Mill Creek Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Mill Creek area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 15). The Mill Creek area generally includes Mill Creek Canyon and the area bounded by 700 East on the west, 3300 Southon the north, and 3900 South on the south. The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Mill Creek area
When: November 29, 2017, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1040, 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
Purpose: In accordance with Chapter 73-4, Utah Code Annotated, and the Third Judicial District Court (Civil No. 365729832), 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 Mill Creek Subdivision, Salt Lake County East Division, of the Utah Lake and Jordan River drainage in Salt Lake County. Efforts are currently underway and over the next few months, representatives of the Division of Water Rights will be working in the Mill Creek 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 Mill Creek area, please contact the Division at 801-538-5282.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
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 the meeting, click here.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Training on Supplemental Water Rights

The Division of Water Rights will be hosting a training session on supplemental water rights and water use groups. The training will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at the Department of Natural Resources Building in Salt Lake City (1594 West North Temple) in Room 1040 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to Teresa Wilhelmsen at teresawilhelmsen@utah.gov if you would like to attend or for further information.

For more information, click here.