Friday, November 4, 2016

What Is a Notice to File Statement of Water User's Claim?

Across the State of Utah, there are numerous ongoing General Adjudications, which are court actions to determine all water rights in a given area. Some General Adjudications have been in the process for decades, while other General Adjudications have just begun. Recently, the Utah legislature passed a law that modifies how General Adjudications are administered by the courts and the Utah Division of Water Rights. These new General Adjudications are generally being done in small chunks; i.e., rather than trying to adjudicate a whole river basin at once, the large area is divided into much smaller "subdivisions." For example, the Division has recently initiated General Adjudications in the Rose Park Area, the Jordan Park Area, the West Mill Creek Area, and the Nibley Park Area in Salt Lake County.

If the Division thinks you might own a water right in an adjudication area, or if you are the owner of land in an adjudication area, the Division will include you in the adjudication process. The first notice you will generally receive is a letter letting you know that an adjudication has begun. The letter will generally provide information about a public meeting to discuss the adjudication process. Also included will be a Summons, which is necessary due to the fact that a General Adjudication is a court process.

After the public meeting is held, the next notice you will generally receive is a "Notice to File Statement of Water User's Claim." This Notice alerts you that if you wish to assert a water right within the adjudication area, you must file a Water User's Claim within 90 days. If you do not file a Water User's Claim within the 90-day time period, you will likely lose your water right and/or all right to assert a water right. With this Notice, the Division sends a Water User's Claim form. If the Division has information that you own a particular water right, the Water User's Claim will already be filled out with the water right information that the Division has on its records. If the Division does not have information that you own a water right, the Water User's Claim form will be blank.

Due to the nature of the General Adjudication, it is incumbent that anyone wishing to assert a water right file a Water User's Claim within the 90-day time period. If you need help determining if you can claim a water right or filling out a Water User's Claim, contact me to set up an initial consultation.

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