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Resources for Realtors®

Access Water Right Data and Maps

The Department has a variety of online tools for accessing information about water rights.  Our main tool is the Water Rights Information System.  This database allows for summary reports as well as detailed information on individual water rights.  Our Water Right Mapping page provides a geographical look at water rights and related data.   To access water rights by township, range and section please use our Plat Card Report utility.   A trip to our Vault provides access to scanned images of original documents and maps. 
 
To decipher several of the codes and abbreviations used in our databases, use the key.
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Find Out if a Property has a Water Right

Realtors® are encouraged to begin researching water right information for property(ies) involved in real estate transactions as soon as possible.  To that end, there are several methods that can be used to determine whether a piece of property has a water right.  The appropriate method depends upon the information you have.  The Department has developed step-by-step instructions to help utilize the Water Right Mapping page.  To access the most common methods for determining whether a piece of property has a water right, click How to Find a Water Right on a Piece of Property.
DISCLAIMER: The information reflected in the Water Right Mapping page is derived by interpretations of paper records.  Please refer to the actual water right record for the details on any water right.  Care was taken in the creation of the data but is provided “as is”. The Water Resources Department cannot accept any responsibility for errors, omission, or accuracy of the information.  There are no warranties, expressed or implied, including the warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose, accompanying this information.  However, notification of any errors would be appreciated.
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White Paper: Water Right Transfers and Real Property Transactions

This guidance document prepared by the Water Resources Department provides information related to the transfer of water rights and real property transactions and the alternatives for conveying water rights and land separately.
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Water Right Ownership Updates

An Ownership Update form is used to notify the Department of ownership changes associated with land covered by a perfected water right.  Perfected water rights are those evidenced by the issuance of a certificate of water right. 
(NOTE:  If you do not have a certificated water right, an Assignment should be used to change the name on the file record.)
Upon receipt of a completed Ownership Update, it is placed in the water right file record for reference; however, the updated name information will not appear in the Department’s computer records or on the water right certificate.
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Assignments

An Assignment is a formal process to change the name of the holder of an application, permit, limited license, transfer, permit amendment or ground water registration claim (i.e., non-perfected, non-certificated rights). This process is similar to changing the name on the title of a car.  An Assignment ensures that the Department knows who the water right record belongs to and who will be responsible for finalizing the right.
There are two different types of Assignments, each with a specific form. 
The first type is a Request for Assignment, which is used when the existing holder of the water right record will be signing the paperwork to assign the water right record to another person or entity. 
The second type is a Request for Assignment in Absence of Permit Holder.  This type of assignment is used when the existing holder of record is not available to sign the paperwork.  In this case, the person requesting the Assignment must provide proof of ownership for the property that is to be involved in the Assignment. 
Examples of acceptable “proof of ownership” include, but are not limited to: a copy of the deed to the land, a copy of a land sales contract, a court order or decree, documentation of survivorship of property jointly held.  The Department cannot accept a copy of a tax statement.
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Assignments: Frequently Asked Questions

Question: “I need to change the name on a water right. Is that an Assignment or a Transfer?”
Answer: An Assignment changes the name on an application, permit, limited license, transfer, or GR registration (i.e., non-perfected, non-certificated rights). This is similar to changing the name on the title of a car. An Assignment ensures that the Department knows who the water right record belongs to and who will be responsible for finalizing the right. A transfer changes or modifies an existing water right. For a perfected, certificated water right, an Ownership Update Form should be used to update the contact information.
     
Question: “What is the difference between an Ownership Update and an Assignment?”
Answer:  An Ownership Update is used to notify the Department that the ownership of land covered by a perfected water right has changed. Perfected rights are those evidenced by the issuance of a certificate of water right. Upon receipt of a completed Ownership Update, it is placed in the water right file record for reference; however, it is not updated in the Department’s computer records. An Assignment is used to change the name on a non-perfected right. These are water rights in progress and the Department needs to work with the owner to perfect these rights.
 
Question: “I cannot locate the permit holder of record to sign the Assignment form.
                 What do I do?”
Answer: This would require an Assignment by proof of ownership. When the permit holder of record cannot be located, the party requesting Assignment may do so by providing proof of ownership. In this case, the person requesting the Assignment must provide proof that they own the property that is to be involved in the Assignment. Examples of acceptable “proof of ownership” include, but are not limited to: a copy of the deed to the land, a copy of a land sales contract, a court order or decree, documentation of survivorship of property jointly held.  The Department cannot accept a copy of a tax statement.
 
Question: “There were two people listed on the permit, but one has passed away. How is it assigned to the surviving person?”
Answer: This can be dealt with in several ways. If the two people listed on the permit were a couple, a copy of the death certificate and documentation that the surviving person was the executor (or had right of survivorship in the deed) will solve the problem and allow the remaining permit holder to sign the Assignment form.  A copy of a court document showing the disbursement of property under a will or estate can also provide proof of ability to sign an Assignment form.
 
Question: “How do I assign a water right when there has been a divorce?”
Answer: If one of the parties involved in the divorce will be retaining the permit, one party may sign an Assignment form in order to assign the permit to the other party. If the permit is to be assigned to another entity entirely, it will either take the signature of both parties (i.e., permit holders) or a copy of a signed divorce decree giving one party the legal right to ownership of the permit or the authority to sign.
 
Question: “The bank wants to be assigned onto my permit. Is this allowed?”
Answer:  This is standard practice for many lending institutions. If there are permits or other unperfected rights on the land, they will frequently request to be assigned to the permit(s). After the obligation is satisfied, they will assign themselves off of the permit(s).
 
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