Water shares or water rights in Utah are considered “real property” and are bought and sold like real estate. Utah’s water law is based on the concept that water is the property of the public and a right to use the water should only be maintained if the water is put to beneficial use. Water rights that are purchased but are not proofed to a well within a 7 year period are subject to forfeiture. A non-use application can be filed to protect a water right. This is recommended if you are purchasing property now with water but do not plan to build right away.
When you purchase a home that is not serviced by the municipality, it must have a water right or a share of a water right that is part of a community well. It will be noted on the MLS listing and you will receive a deed for the water right or share. Once the deed has been executed and recorded, a Report of Water Right Conveyance must be filed with the Division of Water Rights. It is very important to understand the limitations and conditions of the water right/share that was purchased with the home.
Land can be purchased without water in Utah. You must purchase a water right if you are going to build a residence on property that you own. There are restrictions on how much water you must have depending on its use. For instance, for a single family residence, two head of livestock (cows, horses, sheep, goats, etc) and about 1/8 acre of landscape or garden, you will need about 1 acre foot of water. The water right purchased must be for where your land is located (i.e. if the property is south of US Rt 56 but north of New Harmony, the water right must be from the aquifer within those boundaries).
Once you purchase your water right and it has been recorded, you have 5 years to have it proofed by an engineer to your well. You have to prove that you are using the water for its intended purposes.
Where to go for further information:
- Utah Division of Water Rights
- Water Rights Policy Map
- Water Right Applications & Forms
- The Southwestern Regional Office is located in Cedar City at 585 North Main St. 435-586-4231