The Utah Division of Water Rights (DWR) will soon begin adjudicating the general water rights of the Moab and Spanish Valley area.
A public meeting to provide information on the adjudication process will be held on Wednesday, April 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West.
Officials said the adjudication will help DWR better understand what water rights are in use and how much water is being used annually within Moab and Spanish Valley.
“As Moab continues to develop, it is critically important for us to know how much water is actually in use,” DWR Southeastern Regional Engineer Marc Stilson said. “On paper, the water resources in Moab Valley are over-appropriated; however, many of the early filings were only quantified by flow, not volume, making it appear that the water right holder is using more water than what is actually in use … Many of these individual well rights have been abandoned as city and county water systems have come on line through the years.”
As a part of the adjudication process, a water-right summons will be sent to all water right and property owners in the valley in early-April.
The summons informs potential claimants they will need to file claims to protect any water rights they believe they own. In order to do that, water users should be looking for additional information and may attend the April 18 public meeting. The public meeting is held to help answer questions and provide additional information on the process.
Water users generally know if they claim a water right because they divert water from a well, spring or stream, rather than a water service connection to the local municipality. People with a valid water right usually maintain a physical structure, like a head gate, a spring box or a ditch. Water rights transfer silently with real property unless specifically reserved or descriptively conveyed otherwise in recorded deeds.
As a consequence, any real property owner could be a successor to a water right and will be mailed a summons to assure they are aware they may need to file a claim.
If you have a water right, DWR officials say that you should be participating. If you have a water right and don’t participate, they say you could lose your right to the use of that water: By not participating in the process, property owners indicate they don’t wish to claim a water right.
“Receiving a summons in the mail can cause concern and anxiety,” DWR Adjudication Program Manager Blake Bingham said. “Although it’s a process we need to go through, there’s a good chance the summons doesn’t apply to most individuals and won’t require any action on their part … We send these notices to property owners who live in a general area so those who own and use those rights have the opportunity to participate. For property owners or residents in the valley who do not have a water right, or are just using their municipal connection, they can simply disregard the notices.”
Once commenced, DWR officials say the adjudication will move quickly under a fixed time schedule and claimants need to act promptly as directed to protect their rights in the course of the legal proceedings.
DWR staff will be in the valley every week throughout the process investigating claims, helping water users with questions and preparing a report to present to the court.
Division of Water Rights plans April 18 public hearing on process
Visit www.waterrights.utah.gov for more information, or contact DWR staff at 801-538-5282.