Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Policy Change Regarding Municipal Use Water Rights

The Utah Division of Water Rights recently adopted a new policy regarding who is entitled to have municipal use water rights. The text of the State Engineer's policy change is included below:

It has been the policy of the Division to approve municipal use only for public entities or entities which are contractually obligated with public entities for public water supply service. Applications in the name of other parties with the concurrence of a public entity to whom the water right is to be conveyed have been approved with the condition the application must be conveyed to the public entity and perfected in their name. Current practice is to approve change applications for public entities to municipal use from other uses with a condition which limits the approval to a specific acre foot diversion and depletion quantity related to the historic use and a requirement the public water supplier maintain records of actual diversion and use sufficient to demonstrate depletions associated with use under the application do not exceed the specified depletion limitation.

Effective immediately, the entities which qualify for municipal use on application approval are to be expanded from public entities to "Public Water Suppliers" as defined in 73-1-4(1)(b) UCA. Please note this expands the universe of qualifying entities to include private water companies regulated by the PSC and community water systems (normally non-profit corporations) serving at least 100 connections or 200 year round residents which are controlled by the residents they serve. This change in policy will allow these entities to submit applications to cover the universe of uses under the umbrella of municipal use expected in a metropolitan setting without the overhead of change applications for each particular use type, the flexibility of accounting for their uses in terms of diversion and depletion, and submit proof on that basis for uses in their service area. With this new found flexibility these entities must also accept the responsibility to maintain records of diversion and use to demonstrate their compliance with the limitations of their applications and are expected to submit data to the water use program consistent with other public entities which are now reporting.

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