Updated: November 3, 2022

Latest changes in red.


The area is part of the ongoing Bear River Adjudication. Six Proposed Determination of Water Rights books have been published. No final decrees have yet been issued. Several earlier decrees exist for a number of smaller streams. There are two state-administered distribution systems in this area: the Box Elder Creek/Big Creek Distribution System, which is currently inactive, and the Lower Bear River Distribution System. Because this area is part of the Bear River basin, the conditions of the 1955 Bear River Compact and the 1980 Amended Bear River Compact apply. Click here to see statistics for this area.


Surface and Ground Water - The area is open to appropriation of both surface and ground water, except in certain areas described hereafter:

  • No filings are approved in canyon areas above fully appropriated springs and streams.
  • Mantua Valley is closed to new appropriations.
  • The Bothwell Pocket area has experienced ground-water problems and new appropriations in the pocket and the tributary White's Valley area to the northwest are limited to the domestic use of one family, the irrigation of 1/4 acre, and a nominal amount of livestock watering.
  • Applications in the Thatcher area, the valley east of Willard Bay, and the valley area along the East Branch Canal from Collinston to Brigham City area are individually reviewed. Filings above the amount needed for a single family residence (or comparable acre-footage) may be denied.
  • Small filings may be denied if they are above spring areas, especially around Garland and Tremonton.
  • Changes from surface to underground sources, and vice versa, are considered on their individual merits, with emphasis on their potential to interfere with existing rights and to ensure that there is no enlargement of the underlying rights.
  • Fixed-time and temporary applications, especially those involving surface waters, are considered on their individual merits, with emphasis on their potential to interfere with existing rights
  • A Groundwater Management Policy for the Malad and Bear River Drainages in Water Right Area 29 was adopted on April 30, 2018. All applications are subject to the policy within the management area as defined by this map.

Governor's Proclamation 2022-01 - On November 3, 2022, Governor Spencer Cox issued a proclamation suspending new appropriations of surplus and unappropriated waters in the Great Salt Lake Basin pursuant to Utah Code 73-6-1. To read the press release from the Governor's office, click here. To read the proclamation, click here. A report on the proclamation to suspend appropriations in Great Salt Lake Basin was published on November 22, 2023 and can be read here. To view a map of areas subject to the proclamation, click here.

The following are excepted from the effect of this proclamation:
  1. applications for non-consumptive uses,
  2. applications that include a mitigation plan to offset depletion, and
  3. applications for small amounts of water, as defined in Utah Code 73-3-5.6, that comply with State Engineer basin policies.
All such applications remain subject to all applicable requirements of state law.


Applications are advertised in the Brigham City's Box Elder News-Journal or The Leader in Tremonton. Filings that may involve the diversion of water in Utah for use in Idaho (export) would be subject to the special criteria the statutes require for such projects. The general irrigation diversion duty for this area, which the State Engineer uses for evaluation purposes, is 4.0 acre-feet per acre per year. The consumptive use requirement is determined from the publication Consumptive Use of Irrigated Crops in Utah, Research Report 145, Utah State University, 1994, unless the applicant submits other data for consideration. This area is administered by the Northern Regional Office in Logan.

Other requirements

The Water Right applicant is strongly cautioned that other permits may be required before any physical development of a project can begin and it is the responsibility of the applicant to determine the applicability of and acquisition of such permits. In order to avoid delays and ensure that Water Right approvals conform to applicable local ordinances, applicants should contact local governmental entities in advance to determine what ordinances are in place that affect the proposed project and to make sure that Water Right filings conform to those ordinances. The approval of a Water Right application does not imply any approval of a project by any other governmental entity. Approval of the project proposed in the Water Right application should be obtained from local governmental entities as necessary to implement a project.


Technical Publication No. 44, Ground-water Resources of the Lower Bear River Drainage Basin, Box Elder County, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1974.

Technical Publication No. 67, Seepage Study of the West Side and West Canals, Box Elder County, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1980.

Basic Data Report No. 1, Records and Water-Level Measurements of Selected Wells and Chemical Analysis of Ground-water, East Shore Area, Davis, Weber, and Box Elder Counties, Utah; Utah State Engineer; 1961.

Basic Data Report No. 18, Quality of Surface Water in the Bear River Basin, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1970.

Basic Data Report No. 23, Selected Hydrologic Data, Lower Bear River Drainage Basin, Box Elder County, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1973.

Basic Data Report No. 45, Selected Hydrologic Data from Wells in the East Shore Area of the Great Salt Lake, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1986.

UGS Special Study 157, Hydrogeology of the Malad Lower Bear River Basin, North-Central Utah And South-Central Idaho; 2016.

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5011, Hydrology and Numerical Simulation of Groundwater Flow and Streamflow Depletion By Well Withdrawals in the Malad-Lower Bear River Area, Box Elder County, Utah; 2017.

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5213, Steady-State Numerical Groundwater Flow Model of the Great Basin Carbonate and Alluvial Aquifer System; 2014.

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5072, Groundwater Model of the Great Basin Carbonate and Alluvial Aquifer System Version 3.0: Incorporating Revisions in Southwestern Utah and East Central Nevada; 2017.


Regional Ground-Water Flow, Carbonate Rock Province, Nevada, Utah, and Adjacent States; USGS Open-File Reports 93-170 and 93-420; 1993.


April 9, 2002, April 10, 2011, June 5, 2012, June 24, 2016, May 1, 2018

Policy area in green,
click on the map for more detail


Comprising the eastern quarter of Box Elder County from T7N to T15N, this area covers the Bear River from Cutler Dam to the Great Salt Lake and the Malad River from the Idaho state line to its confluence with the Bear River. It is bordered on the north by Idaho, on the east by Clarkston Mountain and the Wellsville Mountains, on the south by the Great Salt Lake, and on the west by the West Hills. The highest point in the area is 8,244 foot Gunsight Peak, while the lowest is the surface of the Great Salt Lake at about 4,200 feet, giving a total relief of about 4,050 feet.