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9/21/2019
NFH Bend Fall Forum (Sunriver)

Water Rights II
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2/20/2018 at 6:30:43 PM GMT
Posts: 1
Water Rights II

I was recently contacted by the WA State EPA saying that they have begun reviewing my application for water rights on our cabin.  I purchased the cabin only 6 years ago and one of the previous owners filed that application for the water rights 21 years ago.  The EPA is just now getting to it.  They said that they are going to hire a third party to manage the process of approving the water rights in my area as there are about 150 applications that haven't been addressed for years.  The process will cost each person in the range of $5,000-$15,000 they said.  Also they told me I can opt out and not get the water rights.  What I'm wondering is what is the benefit of having the water rights assuming that of course I'd still have access to water without them.  I asked it the water rights "stayed with my cabin" despite the land being Forest Service Land and the lady at the EPA didn't know and that yes they do on private land but was never asked about the Forest Service Land.

Thanks for your advice.




Jason Williams


2/26/2018 at 4:54:10 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Jason,
Unfortunately I am not water rights expert and water rights typically are specific to each State. Here in California we have experienced extended drought periods, the last one brought up some of the local water rights issues. Our tract water system never obtained water rights from the State of California, however some tracts did, including the tract to the east of us that used the same stream as a source that we did. That tract later drilled a successful well and no longer used the stream. During the last drought the State started looking up water rights so they could curtail usage. We were notified to curtail usage but the water rights they were using to notify us belonged to the tract to the east. Because we never obtained water rights the only way the State could shut us down was to tell the Forest Service that they had no right to the water. Our water was never curtailed as the State wasn't going to take on the Forest Service, however if we had water rights granted by the State we would have been shut down.

My recommendation would be to seek a water right lawyer in your area and see if it is really worth paying that much money for something that may be of no benefit. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
George