Clyde Snow

Water Rights for the Great Salt Lake: Is it the Impossible Dream?

by | Dec 16, 2016

Abstract: The Great Salt Lake is many things: It is a terminal lake. It’s an environmental jewel providing habitat to migrating birds and significant wet lands—nature’s best filter for preserving water quality. It supports significant economic activity. It provides various recreational opportunities, and it is a contributor to poor respiratory health when lake levels are low. Although basin-wide water supplies have not significantly changed since pioneer settlement times, upstream diversions under appropriated water rights have increased and those diversions have lowered the lake’s elevation by 11 feet. This decline will continue with our growing population and the increasing demands a doubling of our population will have on the available water supply.

Appropriated water rights are a preferential right of use granted or permitted of a state-owned resource. And while the appropriated right gives a degree of exclusivity in the possession and priority of use, it is a vested but conditional property right that has always been subject to the assertion of broader federal and state interests, where necessary, to protect the broader needs of society. These broader public interests have been expressed in the public trust doctrine and the public welfare aspect of state appropriation laws. The public trust doctrine is grounded in federal common law, whereas the public welfare/interest standard is a state common law principle. Either or both doctrines can be asserted by governmental and private interests, where necessary, to protect the public’s interest, and their assertion can displace or modify the so-called vested appropriated water right.

There are other avenues to creating a water supply for the Great Salt Lake that are less draconian than the public trust doctrine, that could be employed through voluntary market based transactions on either a temporary or longer-term arrangement. Certain changes to our water laws and policies will be required to make these options more feasible.

The rest of the article can be read here.

Sign up for our latest updates.


Recent Posts

Ripple Effect 150: Colorado River Authority of Utah

Amy Haas, Executive Director of the Colorado River Authority of Utah, talks us through the inception of the entity, how it executes its mission to protect and defend Utah’s portion of the Colorado River, and where the Authority is leading out in tackling hard...

Ripple Effect 149: Watershed Improvements for Carbon Credits

Alex Johnson, Chief Strategic Officer for Virridy, walks us through this Company’s unique, and very innovative, platform to merge monitoring water quality improvements with selling carbon credits on the voluntary carbon market. Hint – treating water is energy...

Ripple Effect 148: Scaling Up! H2O – from Host to Guest!

In this very special episode, Emily joins the podcast not as a host, but as a guest! Join us as our beloved host Emily Lewis takes the spotlight on an entirely separate water podcast - 'Scaling Up! H2O.' Here's your chance to get personal with our host....

Ripple Effect 147: Snow Report 2023-2024

Jordan Clayton, Supervisor for the Utah Snow Survey at NRCS, joins us to discuss the status of Utah’s snow year and our water supply. Good news – after a slow start, the State is overall at 102% of normal. Bad news – we have a long way to go in the water year and we...

Ripple Effect 146: 2024 Legislative Preview!

Jeff Gittins joins us to discuss upcoming bills for the 2024 Legislative Sessions. A couple key bills, notes, and lots of follow-up tweaks for the last couple years of policy. As always, a great discussion; and check-out Jeff’s Utah Water Law and Water Rights blog.

Ripple Effect 145: 2024 Water Preview: Its Going to be Awesome!

Shaina Shay, Owner and Editor of The Water Report, shares her insights as to what will be big in 2024! PFAS, the Energy Water Nexus, Colorado River, Technology, and Aging Infrastructure all make an appearance. Shaina always brings thoughtful commentary and a unique...

Clyde Snow Elects Newest Director & Shareholder

Clyde Snow & Sessions, a premier Utah law firm known for its commitment to excellence and client service, is proud to announce the election of Trenton L. Lowe as its newest director and shareholder. Mr. Lowe's appointment is a testament to his exceptional legal...

Related Posts