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An Act Relating To Water; Requiring Additional Procedures In The Application Process For The Diversion And Use Of Water From The Basin Of Origin For Use Outside The Basin Of Origin; Providing For Exceptions.

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This bill creates new law that would require anyone intending to transfer surface or underground water from one basin to another basin to apply to the State Engineer (SE) for a permit. The SE must perform a  comprehensive review and then may approve the application if the SE finds “that the applicant’s proposed use of water outside the basin of origin will not impair existing water rights in either the basin of origin or the receiving basin, is not contrary to the conservation of water within the state and is not otherwise detrimental to the public welfare of the state.” This process applies to applications filed on or after July 1, 2014 for such a transfer.

In making its findings, the SE must consider the following factors in its comprehensive review (and may consider others):

  1. “the amount of water in the basin of origin available for future appropriation;
  2. present and reasonably foreseeable projected future needs for water in the basin of origin and the receiving basin;
  3. benefits presently and prospectively derived from the return flow of water used within the basin of origin that will be eliminated by the proposed out-of-basin use;
  4. the correlation between surface water and ground water in the basin of origin, and whether the proposed use will be harmful to the supply of either;
  5. interference with planned uses or developments within the basin of origin for which a permit has been issued or for which an application is pending;
  6. whether the proposed use will adversely affect the quantity or quality of water available for domestic, agricultural, environmental, public recreational or municipal uses within either the basin of origin or the receiving basin;
  7. whether the proposed transfer will unduly limit the future growth and development in the basin from which the water is exported;
  8. the practicable availability of alternative sources of water for the proposed use that would not rely on transfer of water out of its basin of origin;
  9. whether the entity in the receiving basin has prepared and implemented a drought contingency plan and an approved water conservation plan;
  10. whether all funding necessary for the withdrawal and transportation of water to the receiving basin has been secured and guaranteed by the applicant; and
  11. whether the source of supply can reliably sustain the diversion’s anticipated firm yield considering the predicted effects of climate change on precipitation patterns and temperature in the basin of origin.”

The application and permit process set forth in the bill does not apply in the following situations:

  • an application for the inter-basin transfer of less than 1,000 acre-feet of water per year;
  • an appropriation or diversion by a municipality for regional municipal water service if the municipality has a history of making such; or
  • a project for which construction began on or before January 1, 2014.

In addition, the Legislature must give express consent to a proposed diversion exceeding 7,000 acre-feet per year.

This bill may be a positive step towards making sure water stays in basins where the underground water resources may be inadequate to sustain the productivity of wells in the basin by providing an additional degree of scrutiny and oversight.

Date of Summary:  1/20/2014


SB 077 died in the Senate Committees Committee.


Updated 7/31/14