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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The length of an instream lease cannot exceed five years or, in the case of irrigation rights, five irrigation seasons. Any instream lease can be renewed an unlimited number of times.

No, leases of rights for instream use will require the lessor to suspend use of both primary and supplemental sources under the subject water right during the term of the lease.

​Only a split-season use instream lease can be executed midway through an irrigation season if it is submitted prior to July 1st. Prior to water being used in an irrigation season, the applicant must submit the lease application to the Department and must monitor and report the existing use. For a standard instream lease, if irrigation has already taken place in a given season, a lease cannot take effect until the following irrigation season. 

​Only when the water right to be leased is for supplemental use of legally stored water. The supplemental right to use store water, which the right holder would have to characterize as excess water, is eligible to be leased. This is the only instance in which use under the primary right can continue.

Yes. The new instream use must be consistent with the general provisions for instream water rights. The new instream use must serve a public use, as defined by rule. Allowable public uses include recreation, aquatic and fish life, wildlife habitat and ecological values, pollution abatement and navigation. 

​Yes, if “portion of a water right” is defined as the portion that irrigates a distinct tract of land which, will not receive water during the term of the lease. For irrigation and other similar water rights, a portion of a water right is not a percentage of a total seasonal volume. In other words, a user cannot use less water than usual to irrigate the traditional number of acres and then lease the remaining volume of water, unless a "Split-Season Use Instream Lease" is involved and the instream and existing use occur at different times.  Another exception would be for the lease of other non-irrigation style use types where a portion of the water right may be leased and a remaining portion may continue to be used, such as for municipal and industrial uses.

No. Water rights are generally subject to forfeiture after five years of non-use. However,the Department has issued a letter;concluding that water right appurtenant to lands enrolled in the Federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) are not subject to forfeiture during the enrollment period. However, landowners may still want to consider leasing the rights for instream use during this period.

​The irrigation district would submit a District Instream Lease Application Form to the Department. It must include landowner (Lessor) and water right information for each participating landowner. The signature page for the Lessor (landowner or other authorized individual/party) serves as a contract between a landowner and an irrigation district. The irrigation district would submit a completed Lessor Information and Signature Page for each participating landowner as part of its own completed District Instream Lease Application Form.

Note:  If the water you receive is delivered by an Irrigation District, the Irrigation District must be party to the Instream Lease Application.  The standard Instream Lease Application may be used for a single landowner or if multiple landowners/properties are involved, the District Instream Lease Application should be used.​