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Adjudication Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, most claimants complete the Notice of Claim forms without requiring additional assistance. The online, claim-filing procedure steps you through the process. To get started, review the Before You Start information on the Online Claims Taking page.

If you prefer to submit a paper form, visit the File a Claim page.

If you are currently diverting water and putting it to beneficial use you may already have a valid water right. The Adjudication process provides a method to verify and record water rights developed before statutes were enacted requiring a water user to file an application for permit to establish a new water right. An application for permit was required to establish a new water right after March 25, 1963, for ground water and May 20, 1971, for surface water. Before these dates individuals could establish a water right by simply diverting water and applying it to beneficial use.

After 1963, a beneficial use right to ground water may only be established for small domestic and stockwater purposes as described in Idaho Code § 42-111. After 1971, a beneficial use right to surface water can only be established for water used solely for instream watering of livestock.

If you started using ground water after March 25, 1963, without filing an Application for Permit, for anything other than a small domestic or stock water use, or you started using surface water after May 20, 1971, without filing an Application for Permit, for anything other than letting stock drink directly from a stream, you need to file an Application for Permit rather than an adjudication claim.

The Idaho legislature recognized that effective management of the waters of the state of Idaho requires that, “…a comprehensive determination of the nature, extent and priority of the rights of users of surface and ground water be determined.”

The purpose of the general adjudication of water rights is to make a complete and accurate record of all existing water rights. A water right adjudication catalogs and confirms, through the court, all water rights and to which property those water rights belong, binding all property owners and parties to the court decree of those water rights. A comprehensive determination of water rights is needed to protect existing water rights, effectively manage the resource during times of water shortage or dispute, as well as for planning for the future.

If you have a water use for which an adjudication claim is required, a failure to file that claim generally will result in a determination that the water right no longer exists. However, as stated on page 2 of the Commencement Notice, water users with small domestic and/or stockwater rights as defined by Idaho Code §§ 42-111 & 42-1401(A) may defer the filing until a later time in this proceeding. These are known as “deferrable rights”.

It depends.

If Proof of Beneficial Use was submitted to IDWR in connection with your licensed water right on or before the adjudication commencement (June 15, 2021) and your licensed water use is not deferrable, then filing a claim for an existing water license (or prior decree, if issued before the commencement) is required.

If you submitted Proof of Beneficial Use to IDWR on your licensed water right after June 15, 2021, then you do not need to file a claim for that licensed water right.

If changes to parts of a licensed or prior-decreed water right have occurred, the adjudication will result in an updated water right description. IDWR makes a thorough examination and notifies any current owner about old recorded water rights. In the rare cases when a property owner ceased using and exercising a prior water right, the adjudication will clear these once-existing water rights from IDWR’s inventory. Any unclaimed water right that is not deferrable will cease to exist once the adjudication is complete.

If a city, water district, or other water delivery organization supplies your water, that entity should file for your use. You can verify that your water delivery organization filed a claim by using the Idaho Department of Water Resources water right search tool, or by contacting your water delivery organization

There is a one-time fee associated with filing an adjudication claim. However, the amount of those fees should not result in the need for water providers to increase bills for their customers.

No, IDWR does not have either the need or the personnel to require metering of private wells.

The Idaho Legislature would need to pass new legislation in order to impose a tax on private wells.

A combination of water right claim filing fees and Idaho General Tax Fund appropriations will pay for the adjudication. Current estimates place the ratio at approximately 1/10 fees and 9/10 general fund dollars.

Notice of Claim to a Water Right is filed with IDWR in water rights adjudications. An adjudication is a court action for the determination of existing water rights, which results in a decree that confirms and defines each water right. For the Clark Fork Pend Oreille (CFPRBA) and Bear River Basin (BRBA), all uses established on or before June 15, 2021, are considered existing.

New water rights are established through the IDWR permitting process using an Application for Permit. For purposes of the Clark Fork Pend Oreille and the Bear River Basin, water uses first occurring after June 15, 2021, are considered new water rights.

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