Updated: April 11, 2011


Eight Proposed Determination of Water Rights books were published between 1956 and 1960 and a final decree was issued in 1964. An amended decree was issued in 1975 covering the rights of Sheep Creek Irrigation Company in Birch Spring Draw. There are four state-administered distribution systems in this area: the Beaver Creek Distribution System, and the Birch Creek Distribution System, the Burnt Fork Creek Distribution System, and the Pot Creek Distribution System. Since this area is part of the Colorado River basin, the conditions of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, the 1944 Mexican Treaty and the 1948 Upper Colorado River Compact and the State Engineer's Colorado River Policy apply. Applications to appropriate or change water are subject to conditions dealing with Green River Endangered Species Protection. Click here to see statistics for this area.


Surface Water - Surface waters are considered to be fully appropriated, except for isolated springs. New diversions and consumptive uses in these sources must be accomplished by change applications filed on owned or acquired rights. A large block of water under the Flaming Gorge Project has been transferred to the State of Utah and is available for some of these changes. Filings made after November 30, 1994, which divert from the Green River between Flaming Gorge Dam and the confluence with the Duchesne River are subject to bypassing those flows, during the period of June 22 to November 1, as required by a state-federal cooperative agreement regarding endangered fish in the Colorado River basin. Non-consumptive use applications, such as hydroelectric power generation, will be considered on their individual merits.

Ground Water - There is a limited ground-water resource available. Appropriations from isolated springs and underground water are generally limited to sufficient acre-foot amounts to serve the domestic needs of one family, irrigation of 1.0 acres, and a reasonable amount of livestock. Water is available for larger projects on a temporary or fixed-time basis, which are generally limited to five years. Changes from surface to underground sources, and vice versa, are also considered on their individual merits, with emphasis on the existence of a hydrologic tie between the two sources, the potential for interference with existing rights, and to ensure that there is no enlargement of the underlying rights. Applicants are placed on notice that development should be pursued as soon as possible. Extension of time requests will be critically reviewed beyond the initial five-year period.


Applications are advertised in the Vernal Express, the Summit County Bee, or the Bridger Valley Pioneer depending on the location. Filings that may involve the diversion of water in Utah for use in Colorado or Wyoming (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 3.0 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 Northeastern Regional Office in Vernal.

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.


Basic Data Report No. 24, Water Quality Data for the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Area, Utah and Wyoming; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1972.

Basic Data Report No. 25, Streamflow Characteristics in Northeastern Utah and Adjacent Areas, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1975.

Basic Data Report No. 27, Chemical and Physical Data for the Flaming Gorge Reservoir Area, Utah and Wyoming; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1976.

Basic Data Report No. 42, Streamflow Characteristics of the Colorado River Basin in Utah through September 1981; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1987.

Endangered Fish Recovery Program Documents, Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program


None available.


None available.

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


Covering Daggett County, and portions of Summit and Uintah Counties, from T1N to T3N, this area includes streams which drain into Colorado, Wyoming, or the Green River from the north slope of the Uinta Mountains. This area is bounded on the north by Wyoming, on the east by Colorado, on the south by the Uinta Basin, and on the west by the upper portion of the Bear River system. The highest point in the area is 13,442 foot Gilbert Peak, while the lowest is where the Green Rivers leaves the area at about 5,380 feet, giving a total relief of about 8,060 feet.