Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Legislative Preview: Change Application Modifications

Two identical bills have been introduced that seek to change the definition of a person entitled to file a change application.  Senator Margaret Dayton has introduced Senate Bill 35 (SB 35), entitled "Water Rights Amendments," and Representative Keith Grover has introduced House Bill 58 (HB 58), entitled "Change Application Modifications."  Other than the names, these two bills are exactly the same.

These bills are in response to the 2011 Utah Supreme Court ruling in the Salt Lake City v. Big Ditch case that concluded that Big Ditch, while not the owner of certain water rights, could file a change application on those water rights because it was a “person entitled to the use of water” as that phrase is used in the “Change Application” statute, pursuant to a contract it has with Salt Lake City.  Attempts to pass a bill that addressed both this issue and the issue raised in the Jensen v. Jones case (see HB 25) have failed in the last three sessions.  These bills clarify and redefine who is entitled to file a change application, i.e., (1) a holder on an approved but unperfected application to appropriate water; (2) the record owner of a perfected water right; (3) a person who has written authorization from a person described in (1) or (2) above to file the application of that person’s behalf; and (4) a shareholder in a water company who files in accordance with the existing “Shareholder Change Application” statute.

To read the full text of SB 35 as introduced, click here.
To read the full text of HB 58 as introduced, click here.

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