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H.B. 58 Enrolled
This act modifies the Water and Irrigation Code to amend provisions relating to the
abandonment and forfeiture of water.
This act affects sections of Utah Code Annotated 1953 as follows:
73-1-4, as last amended by Chapter 136, Laws of Utah 2001
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the state of Utah:
Section 1. Section 73-1-4 is amended to read:
73-1-4. Reversion to the public by abandonment or forfeiture for nonuse within five
years -- Extension of time.
(1) In order to further the state policy of securing the maximum use and benefit of its
scarce water resources, a person entitled to the use of water has a continuing obligation to place
all of a water right to beneficial use. The forfeiture of all or part of any right to use water for
failure to place all or part of the water to beneficial use makes possible the allocation and use of
water consistent with long established beneficial use concepts. The provisions of Subsections (2)
through (6) shall be construed to carry out the purposes and policies set forth in this Subsection
(2) As used in this section, "public water supply entity" means an entity that supplies water
as a utility service or for irrigation purposes and is also:
(a) a municipality, water conservancy district, metropolitan water district, irrigation district
created under Section 17A-2-7 , or other public agency;
(b) a water company regulated by the Public Service Commission; or
(c) any other owner of a community water system.
ceases to use all or a portion of a water right for a period of five years, the water right or the unused
portion of that water right ceases and the water reverts to the public, unless, before the expiration
of the five-year period, the appropriator or the appropriator's successor in interest files a verified
nonuse application [
(b) (i) A nonuse application may be filed on all or a portion of the water right, including
water rights held by mutual irrigation companies.
(ii) Public water supply entities that own stock in a mutual water company, after giving
written notice to the water company, may file nonuse applications with the state engineer on the
water represented by the stock.
action to declare the right forfeited is commenced within 15 years from the end of the latest period
of nonuse of at least five years.
(ii) If forfeiture is asserted in an action for general determination of rights in conformance
with the provisions of Chapter 4, Determination of Water Rights, the 15-year limitation period shall
commence to run back in time from the date the state engineer's proposed determination of rights
is served upon each claimant.
(iii) A decree entered in an action for general determination of rights under Chapter 4,
Determination of Water Rights, shall bar any claim of forfeiture for prior nonuse against any right
determined to be valid in the decree, but shall not bar a claim for periods of nonuse that occur after
the entry of the decree.
(iv) A proposed determination by the state engineer in an action for general determination
of rights under Chapter 4, Determination of Water Rights, shall bar any claim of forfeiture for prior
nonuse against any right proposed to be valid, unless a timely objection has been filed within the
time allowed in Chapter 4, Determination of Water Rights.
unless the time is further extended by the state engineer.
or a portion of the water is permitted to run to waste or is used by others without right with the
knowledge of the water right holder, provided that the use of water pursuant to a lease or other
agreement with the appropriator or the appropriator's successor shall be considered to constitute
(f) The provisions of this section shall not apply:
(i) to those periods of time when a surface water source fails to yield sufficient water to
satisfy the water right, or when groundwater is not available because of a sustained drought;
(ii) to water stored in reservoirs pursuant to an existing water right, where the stored water
is being held in storage for present or future use; or
(iii) when a water user has beneficially used substantially all of a water right within a
five-year period, provided that this exemption shall not apply to the adjudication of a water right in
a general determination of water rights under Chapter 4, Determination of Water Rights.
(g) Groundwater rights used to supplement the quantity or quality of other water supplies
may not be subject to loss or reduction under this section if not used during periods when the other
water source delivers sufficient water so as to not require use of the supplemental groundwater.
requiring the following information:
(i) the name and address of the applicant;
(ii) a description of the water right or a portion of the water right, including the point of
diversion, place of use, and priority;
(iii) the date the water was last diverted and placed to beneficial use;
(iv) the quantity of water;
(v) the period of use;
(vi) the extension of time applied for;
(vii) a statement of the reason for the nonuse of the water; and
(viii) any other information that the state engineer requires.
(b) Filing the application extends the time during which nonuse may continue until the state
engineer issues his order on the nonuse application [
(c) (i) Upon receipt of the application, the state engineer shall publish, once a week for two
successive weeks, a notice of the application in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in
which the source of the water supply is located and where the water is to be used.
(d) Any interested person may file a written protest with the state engineer against the
granting of the application:
(i) within 20 days after the notice is published, if the adjudicative proceeding is informal;
(ii) within 30 days after the notice is published, if the adjudicative proceeding is formal.
(e) In any proceedings to determine whether the application for extension should be
approved or rejected, the state engineer shall follow the procedures and requirements of Title 63,
Chapter 46b, Administrative Procedures Act.
(f) After further investigation, the state engineer may approve or reject the application.
right shall be granted by the state engineer for periods not exceeding five years each, upon a showing
of reasonable cause for nonuse.
(b) Reasonable causes for nonuse include:
(i) demonstrable financial [
(ii) the initiation of recognized 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
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;
(vi) situations where all or part of the land on which water is used is contracted under an
approved state agreement or federal conservation fallowing program;
(vii) 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; or
(viii) any other reasonable cause.
notify the applicant by registered mail or by any form of electronic communication through which
receipt is verifiable, of the date when the extension period will expire.
(b) Before the date of expiration, the applicant shall either:
(i) file [
state engineer setting forth the date on which use of the water was resumed, and whatever additional
information is required by the state engineer; or
(ii) apply for a further extension of time in which to resume use of the water according to
the procedures and requirements of this section.
(c) Upon receipt of the applicant's properly completed, verified statement, the state engineer
shall conduct investigations necessary to verify that beneficial use has resumed and, if so, shall issue
a certificate of resumption of use of the water as evidenced by the resumed beneficial use.
reverts to the public if the:
(a) appropriator or the appropriator's successor in interest fails to apply for an extension of
(b) state engineer denies the nonuse application [
(c) appropriator or the appropriator's successor in interest fails to apply for a further
extension of time.
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