Friday, June 26, 2009

What is a Nonuse Application?

A nonuse application is an application made to the Utah State Engineer under which a water right owner may cease using the water right for up to seven years without the water right becoming subject to forfeiture.

Under the Utah Code, the State Engineer should not approve a nonuse application unless the applicant shows “reasonable cause” for the nonuse. Reasonable cause includes:

(i) a demonstrable financial hardship or economic depression;
(ii) the initiation of water conservation or efficiency practices, or the operation of a groundwater recharge recovery program approved by the state engineer;
(iii) operation of legal proceedings;
(iv) the holding of a water right or stock in a mutual water company without use by any water supply entity to meet the reasonable future requirements of the public;
(v) situations where, in the opinion of the state engineer, the nonuse would assist in implementing an existing, approved water management plan; or
(vi) the loss of capacity caused by deterioration of the water supply or delivery equipment if the applicant submits, with the application, a specific plan to resume full use of the water right by replacing, restoring, or improving the equipment.

Nonuse applications are advertised, and any interested person can file a protest to the application with the State Engineer. Following a review of the application and any protest (and perhaps an administrative hearing), the State Engineer will either approve or reject the application.

To read the Utah statute regarding nonuse applications, click here.

To access the Utah Division of Water Rights' nonuse application form, click here.

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