Each state has valuable water resources. Inside the Department of Natural Resources, lies the Division of Water Rights. They delegate and distribute natural water resources to the state’s population as requested. In Utah, you must own a water right to use and distribute it as needed. Appropriating these water rights is a legal and educated task that takes full understanding of your rights and the law. 

At Ruesch and Reeve Law, we’re here to help you navigate these water right purchases and perform other practices involving water rights in Southern Utah. We’re here to further educate you on this process and be your personal legal guide through accumulating the natural water resources you need.

Water Right Purchases

Water rights are classified as “real property” in the state of Utah and are bought and sold much like real estate (utah.gov). How and where you’ll use the water will be the determining factor in which water purchase you need to pursue. 

There are specific policy guidelines for different areas in each state. You must determine if your area is open, restricted or closed to new water rights. This will determine which application you need to file.

Water rights are a very complex legal service. With confusing legalities, the purchasing of water rights should be done through the aid of a professional. Fluent in this process, Ben Ruesch is a water law attorney with Ruesch & Reeve and can assist you.


Underground water that percolates through soil and other areas is often included in the property of the owner from the overlaying property. There are a number of rules to dispute underground water use. 

Depending on the type of land you’re on and what you want to use the water for will determine the type of rights you need to file for.


Rights for water diversion and use established prior to 1903 for surface water or prior to1935 for groundwater can be established by filing a “diligence claim” with the Division (waterrights.gov). 

Surface water rights usually fall under the same land rights you own. Though it can differ and be confusing. 

Inventories and Evaluations

Every state and applying location has different analysis’ to take place. These are in order for the proper quantities and policies of water to be purchased. At our office, we do all of that so you don’t have to!

The collection, modeling and application of surface and groundwater quantity data and information are required to determine, analyze and evaluate the local water resource conditions. This is required in order to apply for and receive water rights. Also, to protect them.

Being familiar with these application processes at Ruesch and Reeve, we’re here to make the process of understanding this detailed evaluation easier. Not only easy, but we also do it accurately. 

Rate Increases

Knowing your water rights are also important when it comes to other situations, such as rate increases. At Ruesch and Reeve Law, we properly file and prosecute rate increases with the Utah Division of Public Utilities and Utah Public Service Commission.

Depending on the water system, you have different options on filing a water rate increase.

When it comes to governmental water rate increases, they must comply with what’s known as Prop 218. If you’re unsure to why your rates are going up, your provider is usually required to provide the following:

  • Proposed Rate Increase
  • Why It’s Needed
  • How the Increase Was Calculated
  • When/Where the Public Hearing Is

If your property isn’t government owned, we’ll help you figure out which process to file through. Being comprehensible to water rights is important in knowing when they’re being tried. We decipher your water system and what your options are when a water rate increase is filed against you.

Water Improvement Projects

With water being such a valuable natural resource, having water laws in place to help preserve it are important. Keeping the water quality high and resources readily available for use should be a top priority.

At Ruesch and Reeve, we also specialize in the assisting of water companies in water preservation. From acquiring approvals, funding and easements of water for improvement projects. We really do it all!

Use It or Lose It

Living in the Utah desert, water is considered a very valuable resource. As it is scarce, having water laws in place are to protect the population from long-term negative impacts on low water supply. Water monitoring programs are also set in place.

The Utah water laws are designed to dedicate full responsibility to its users and development of their water supplies. They want to make sure it’s put to beneficial use and isn’t being taken for granted.

For the fact that our water here in Southern Utah isn’t eternally bountiful, the “Use It or Lose It”  law has been put into place. The failure to continue the beneficial use of your water, under itemized circumstances, may result in the loss of your water rights.

A state district attorney is the one who determines whether you have forfeited your right or not by misuse. This complex portion of Utah’s Water Law should be interpreted by a professional. 

Known as “Application for Nonuse of Water”. This should be filed through your state engineer to protect your water rights during a time of unavoidable circumstances. Contact us at Ruesch and Reeve Law today for help navigating the detailed process.

Southern Utah Water Rights Attorneys

At Ruesch and Reeve, we know that the process of acquiring water rights is intricate and intimidating. Providing Southern Utah with countless services, detailing in water rights, we’re here to assist you! Whether it be just obtaining those water rights you need, or fighting for rate increases. 

A full-service law firm here in Southern Utah. We prepare, file and prosecute to the best of our ability. Contact us today for more information on how we may help you.