Utah Water Records
Water usage in Utah began with the first diversion of the streams from the Wasatch Mountains in the Salt Lake Valley, soon after the first pioneers arrived in 1847. Regulation and registration of water rights began with the creation of the Territorial Government and the organization of the counties beginning in 1850. A "county courts" water allocation system was enacted in 1852 and was in effect until 1880 when it was replaced by a statute providing for county water commissioners. The Office of the State Engineer was created in 1897. The State Engineer is the chief water rights administrative officer. A complete "water code" was enacted in 1903 and was revised and reenacted in 1919. This law, with succeeding complete reenactments and amendments is presently in force mostly as Utah Code, Title 73. In 1967 the name of the Office of the State Engineer was changed to the Division of Water Rights with the State Engineer designated as the Director, but the public sometimes still refers to the Division as the State Engineer's Office.
Importance of Water Records
Since water records are kept in addition to records of land transactions, they are a valuable supplement to the existing land records.
The Utah Division of Water Rights maintains a documentary file for each water right in the State of Utah. A water right file typically contains applications, correspondence, and other documents which pertain to the right. These paper documents are electronically scanned and can be accessed through this query page.
The Division also maintains a computerized database of limited pertinent information for each water right. Various search and listing routines are available to access the database information quickly and easily. Discrepancies between the information in the computerized database and that in the documentary file will generally be resolved in favor of the documentary file.
Finding Water Records
The Utah Division of Water Rights (DWRi), led by the State Engineer is the agency of Utah State Government within the Department of Natural Resources that administers the appropriation and distribution of the State's water resources.
The Utah Division of Water Rights is an office of public record for information pertaining to water rights, excepting that related to water right ownership. The office of public record for water right ownership is the county recorder’s office for the county or counties in which the water is diverted. All official and publicly accessible water right records are available in the Salt Lake City office or from the website of the Utah Division of Water Rights.Region Offices outside Salt Lake City will also have copies of most records for the areas they administer.
Information about how and where water rights are administered is on the Water Right Information page of the Utah Division of Water Rights.