Water Rights and Multiple Properties

A common issue involving water rights occurs when the water right is connected to multiple properties with different owners. Perhaps the point of diversion is on one parcel of property independent of the authorized place of use or the authorized place of use encompasses several separately-owned tracts of lands. One owner usually wants to make a change to the water right or separate a portion of the water right from the other landowners.

A water right, as a real property right, can be divided. This means that the attributes of the water right can be fair and equitably split among the respective owners, including the rate of diversion and the quantity of water. If the parties are in agreement on how to divide the water right, then usually an overarching contract is completed defining the nature of the division. A form must also be completed and sent to the Division of Water Resources, along with a host of accompanying information. There is also a fee for the application.

Once the application is approved by the Division of Water Resources, the water right is effectively divided among the landowners. Each landowner may then treat each new water right as a separate water right. The new water rights may also be sold separately or severed from the land.

A greater problem occurs when the landowners cannot agree on how to divide the water right. This can be accomplished judicially. However, this will be the subject of a later article.

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