How Do I Get a Water Right?
You May Already Have One!
If you are currently diverting the public waters of the state and putting the water to beneficial use, you may already have a valid water right. You may have acquired a valid water right along with your land if:
IDWR maintains records of water right permits, licenses, and decrees. Water right records are available for public inspection.
Instances When You May Need a New Water Right
You may need a new water right for an existing use of water if a water right was not properly established for the existing use. (For example, if a use of surface water was initiated after 1971 without applying to IDWR for a permit.) A new water right is also needed for a new use of water. If you wish to establish a new water right, then there are certain procedures you will need to follow.
First, an Application for a Permit must be filed with IDWR. The information that must be included in the application is described by statute and in rules and regulations of IDWR.
IDWR is required to publish notice of the application, and other persons may file protests to the application with IDWR. If protests are filed, then IDWR must hold a hearing if protests cannot be resolved.
IDWR must then review the application (including any hearing record), and if the application meets the requirements of the statute and the rules and regulations, a permit is issued. The permit describes the appropriation to be made and the deadline within which the appropriation must be completed.
Prior to the end of the period in which the appropriation must be completed, IDWR sends the permit holder a notice that the deadline is approaching and that the permit holder must submit proof of beneficial use. “Proof of beneficial use” is a form sent to the permit holder by IDWR, that the permit holder fills out and returns to IDWR. In the proof form, the permit holder states that he or she has completed the appropriation.
After filing the proof form, a field examination must be made. The permit holder may request that the field examination be made by IDWR, in which case an examination fee is required to be paid to IDWR at the time proof is filed. The permit holder may instead have the field examination completed by a certified field examiner not associated with IDWR, in which case the field examiner submits a report to IDWR after the examination is completed and prior to the proof due date. The purpose of the field examination is to ensure that water is in fact being used as described in the permit. If so, IDWR issues a license that describes the appropriation that has been completed.
Read more about the water right process and filing an exception to a Statutory Claim