Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Foothill Village Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Foothill Village area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 13). The Foothill Village area generally includes the area from 1100 East on the west to the ridge of Parley's Canyon on the east, and from 2100 South/Parley's Way on the south to Sunnyside Avenue on the north (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Foothill Village area
When: October 4, 2017, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1050, 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. 365729829), 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 Foothill Village 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 Foothill Village 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 Foothill Village 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

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Oakland Place Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Oakland Place area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 12). The Oakland Place area generally includes the area from 300 West on the west to 700 East on the east, and from 2100 South on the north to 2700 South on the south (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Oakland Place area
When: September 13, 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. 365729829), 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 Oakland Place 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 Oakland Place 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 Oakland Place area, please contact Mike Handy at (801)538-7240.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

For more information about the meeting, click here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Burr v. Koosharem Irrigation Company

The Utah Court of Appeals recently issued its opinion in the case of Burr v. Koosharem Irrigation Company. The case began in 2014 when Greg Torgerson, a shareholder in Koosharem Irrigation Company, filed a lawsuit against the Company. Shortly thereafter, two additional shareholders, Chad Torgerson and Bret Kouns, joined in the lawsuit. The three plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint, which included a shareholder derivative claim against the Company and two of the Company's directors. The plaintiffs alleged that these two directors had breached their fiduciary duties to the Company, had engaged in self-dealing, and had failed to act in good faith and with loyalty. The plaintiffs also sought to have the two directors removed from the board due to "rigged elections."

Under the Utah Revised Nonprofit Corporation Act, a court action to remove a director must be commenced "by voting members holding at least 10% of the votes entitled to be cast in the election of the director's successor." The three plaintiffs owned a combined 11.9% of the outstanding shares in the Company. In 2015, however, plaintiff Bret Kouns passed away. The two remaining plaintiffs only owned a combined 5.3% of the outstanding shares.

Following an investigation by a court-appointed committee that determined that a derivative claim was not in the best interests of the Company, the court dismissed plaintiffs' derivative claims. The Company then sought to have the director removal claim dismissed as well, citing to the fact that the two remaining plaintiffs did not own the requisite number of shares.

Burr, another shareholder in the Company, then sought to join the lawsuit by filing a motion to intervene. If Burr was allowed to intervene in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs would collectively have sufficient shares to be above the required 10% threshold. The district court, however, denied Burr's motion to intervene, concluding that Burr had failed to adequately explain why he had waited nearly two years to try to join in the lawsuit. Burr appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals.

The Court began its opinion by noting the standard for a party seeking to intervene, which is that the party must demonstrate "(1) that its motion to intervene was timely, (2) that it has an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action, (3) that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect that interest, and (4) that its interest is not adequately represented by existing parties." The Court determined that Burr had met these requirements. Although Burr's motion to intervene was not filed for almost two years after the case was initiated, his participation in the case did not become necessary until Kouns passed away. Thus, the motion to intervene was timely. Furthermore, Burr had an interest in the subject matter of the case because he was a shareholder in the Company, and without Burr's participation in the case, the director removal claim would be dismissed and the interests of Burr (and the other two plaintiffs) would be affected. Finally, the Court determined that Burr's interests were adequately represented until Kouns' death -- but after Kouns' death, Burr's interests were not adequately represented by the remaining two plaintiffs who did not own sufficient shares to allow the case to continue.

For these reasons, the Court of Appeals held that Burr should have been allowed to intervene in the case. The Court of Appeals therefore reversed the decision of the district court and sent the case back to the district court to continue.

To read the full opinion, click here.

Utah Water Strategy Report

In 2013, Governor Gary Herbert tasked the State Water Strategy Advisory Team to provide recommendations for a 50-year water strategy for the State of Utah. The Advisory traveled around the state and held town hall meetings, and also invited written comments, to get public input on planning for future water needs.

The Advisory Team has recently published its Recommended State Water Strategy, which is a 200-page report to Governor Herbert containing various recommendations and ideas regarding how Utah should manage its water resources into the future. Some of the topics covered include:
  • Water conservation and efficiency
  • Development of water supplies
  • Water for agricultural lands and food production
  • Preservation of natural water systems
  • Water quality
  • Maintenance and replacement of existing water infrastructure
  • Impacts of climate change on water supplies
  • Utah water law and policy
  • Role of policymakers
  • Science, technology, and innovation
To read the full report, click here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Liberty Park Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Liberty Park area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 11). The Liberty Park area generally includes the area from 300 West on the west to 1100 East on the east, and from 900 South on the north to 2100 South on the south (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Liberty Park area
When: August 2, 2017, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1050, 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. 365729828), 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 Liberty Park 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 Liberty Park 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 Liberty Park area, please contact Josh Zimmerman at (801)538-7240.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

For more information about the meeting, click here.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Training on Water Right Conveyances

The Division of Water Rights will be hosting a training session on ownership and conveyance of water rights. The training will be held on Wednesday, August 30, 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. Please RSVP to Chris York at cyork@utah.gov if you would like to attend or for further information.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Public Meeting Concerning the General Adjudication in Dry Creek Area

The Utah Division of Water Rights has set a public meeting to discuss the general adjudication of water rights in the Dry Creek area in Salt Lake County East Division of the Utah Lake / Jordan River Drainage (Area 57, Book 10). The Dry Creek area generally includes the Dry Creek drainage in the mountains east of Salt Lake City and a portion of Salt Lake City from 700 East on the west to Mario Capecchi Drive on the east, and from Yale Avenue on the south to the City Creek drainage on the north (see map below). The following information is from the public meeting notice:

What: Public Meeting
Who: Water Users within the Dry Creek area
When: May 16, 2017, 6:00 to 7:00 pm
Where: Department of Natural Resources, Room 1050, 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. 360057297), 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 Dry 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 Dry Creek area to survey existing water rights and investigate water user's claims. 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 Dry Creek area, please contact Blake Bingham at (801)538-7345. The meeting will also be viewable online at the following YouTube link.
Agenda:
1.  Introduction (Blake Bingham, P.E. - Adjudication Program Manager)
2.  Adjudication Process Presentation
3.  Public Comments and Questions

For more information about the meeting, click here.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Water "Hall of Fame or Shame"

The Utah Division of Water Resources is rolling out a new program called "Hall of Fame or Shame." The program allows members of the public to notify the Division of people who are doing a good job of conserving water ("Fame"), as well as people who are wasting or otherwise improperly using water ("Shame"). After an online report is filed, the Division will forward the information on to the appropriate city or public water supplier so that recognition or correction (as the case may be) may be given. To file a report online, click here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued its decision in the case of Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians v. Coachella Valley Water District. The case started when the Tribe filed a court action seeking a declaration that it has a federally reserved water right to groundwater underlying the Tribe's reservation. The federal government intervened in the case and also asserted that the Tribe had a reserved right to groundwater. The case was divided into three phases, with the first phase being to determine if the Tribe has a reserved right to groundwater. In the first phase, the federal district court ruled in the Tribe's favor, and the ruling was appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit acknowledged that under the Winters doctrine, federal reserved water rights are directly applicable to Indian reservations, but recognized that prior applications of the Winters doctrine had been only for surface water and that no court had squarely addressed the question of whether the doctrine extended to groundwater. The Court looked at the primary purposes of the reservation and extended the Winters doctrine to include groundwater. The Court noted that some reservations lack perennial streams and therefore depend on pumping groundwater for present and future survival sustainability.
 
To read the full decision, click here.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Haik v. Salt Lake City Corporation

The Utah Supreme Court recently issued its opinion in the case of Haik v. Salt Lake City Corporation. The case started nearly 20 years ago when Mark Haik filed a lawsuit in federal court against Salt Lake City. Mr. Haik asserted that Salt Lake City was required to supply water to his undeveloped property in the Albion Basin Subdivision. Mr. Haik's complaint against Salt Lake City included claims for unlawful taking and violation of equal protection. The federal court ruled against Mr. Haik, and concluded that Salt Lake City had no duty to provide water to Mr. Haik's property.

In 2012, Mr. Haik filed a second lawsuit in federal court against Salt Lake City, again seeking for the court to order Salt Lake City to provide water to his property. This lawsuit alleged different legal claims (including claims of civil conspiracy and fraud on the court), but was based on the same underlying facts as the first lawsuit. The federal court again ruled against Mr. Haik and determined that he had no claim against the City.

In 2014, Salt Lake City filed a lawsuit in state district court seeking an administrative review of State Engineer orders approving change applications related to the Albion Basin area. As part of the lawsuit, Salt Lake City also brought claims to adjudicate and quiet title to water rights in Little Cottonwood Creek, including water claimed by Mr. Haik. In response, Mr. Haik brought counterclaims against Salt Lake City that were nearly identical to the claims brought in his 2012 federal lawsuit. The district court dismissed Mr. Haik's counterclaims on the grounds that they were barred by res judicata, which is a legal principle that prohibits a party from bringing the same claims multiple times. The district court's decision was appealed to the Utah Supreme Court.

The Utah Supreme Court reviewed the principles of res judicata to determine if the district court had correctly dismissed Mr. Haik's counterclaims against Salt Lake City. The Supreme Court noted that this was not the second time, but the third time, that Mr. Haik had brought his claims against Salt Lake City. The Supreme Court noted that although some of Mr. Haik's counterclaims differed slightly from the claims he asserted in federal court, they were claims that could have been--and should have been--asserted in his federal court actions, and were therefore barred under res judicata. Mr. Haik asserted that his claims were not barred because he was bringing them as counterclaims in the state court action, rather than as direct claims as he did in his federal court actions, and that his counterclaims were necessary to mount a proper defense. The Supreme Court did not find his distinction to be persuasive (although the Supreme Court did note that a future decision may be necessary to determine if Mr. Haik will be prohibited from raising certain defenses in the state court action due to his prior federal court actions).

In the end, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court's dismissal of Mr. Haik's counterclaims. The Supreme Court summarized its decision as follows: "'What has been will be again, and what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.' Ecclesiastes 1:9. Certainly not Mr. Haik's lawsuit."

To read the full opinion, click here.