Special Master For the Utah Lake / Jordan River

 Frequently Asked Questions

  What is a General Water Rights Adjudication?
General Water Rights Adjudications are a critical piece of the statewide program to create and maintain a complete record of water rights. The water rights adjudication process helps to bring order and certainty to the water rights record throughout the state by defining existing rights, quantifying unknown rights, and removing unused and abandoned rights from the record through judicial decree. Under the direction of the district court, the State Engineer provides notice to all potential water right claimants to submit claims, publishes and files a List of Unclaimed Rights with the district court, evaluates filed water user’s claims, prepares a hydrographic survey map, and then prepares and files a Proposed Determination of water rights in the district court. Water users have the opportunity to contest the List of Unclaimed Rights and the Proposed Determination by filing an objection with the district court. Objections must be resolved before the court can render a decree on either the List of Unclaimed Rights or the Proposed Determination. Click here for more information.

  What is a Proposed Determination?
A Proposed Determination is the State Engineer’s official recommendation to the District Court with respect to how water rights should be recognized and distributed within an adjudication subdivision. Typically, Proposed Determinations are represented by an area number (e.g., 59) and a book number (e.g., 6), such as the Cedar Valley Proposed Determination, Area 54, Book 1 (or 54-1). Click here for more information.

  What is a List of Unclaimed Rights?
A List of Unclaimed Rights is a compilation of water rights on the State Engineer’s records for which a water user’s claim was not filed. The List of Unclaimed Rights is published and filed with the Court prior to the publication of the Proposed Determination in order to identify water rights that were not claimed and, consequently, will be considered abandoned by the Court. The List of Unclaimed Rights shares the same nomenclature as its respective Proposed Determination. Click here for more information.

  What is an Objection?
Once a Proposed Determination or List of Unclaimed Rights is filed with the District Court, claimants (i.e., water users) have 90 days to file an objection against the Proposed Determination/List of Unclaimed Rights wherein they can express their dissatisfaction. Objections to a Proposed Determination can be filed to protest a claimant’s own rights or to protest the rights of a separate party. Objections to the List of Unclaimed Rights are limited to challenging the inclusion of rights on the list. Once an objection is filed, the Court must resolve it before a decree can be issued for the respective Proposed Determination. Objections being resolved through the Special Master have a unique number assigned to them that helps to identify the objection and the respective Proposed Determination from which the objection arises (e.g., 54-1-19).

  What is a "Special Master"?
A Special Master is a professional appointed by the Court to manage particular aspects of a case. The Third District Court has appointed a Special Master, Rick L. Knuth, in the Utah Lake and Jordan River General Adjudication. As Special Master, Mr. Knuth supervises discovery, hears motions, conducts evidentiary hearings, and provides reports and recommendations to the judge as to all objections to proposed determinations and objections to lists of unclaimed rights. Mr. Knuth’s work is done pursuant to the Amended Order Appointing a Master (Etc.), dated September 12, 2017. He was originally appointed on June 28, 2016.

  Why did I receive notice of an Objection Proceeding?

There are two primary reasons that you may have been notified of an Objection Proceeding:

  • If you received a “Notice and Order to Show Cause,” you may be an objector (i.e., someone who filed an objection) or a potential successor in interest to an objection. If you desire to proceed with litigating the objection, you must file the “Notice of Intent to Proceed” with the Court within 35 days; otherwise, the Special Master may recommend that the objection be dismissed.

  • If you received a “Notice of Objection Proceeding and Opportunity to be Heard,” you may be an affected party (i.e., someone who may be affected by the outcome of the objection proceedings). If you desire to participate in the litigation, you must file the “Notice of Appearance” within the timeframe referenced in the notice (if any); otherwise, you will not be given further notice of the proceedings and your right to participate in the proceeding later may be impacted.

  •   What should I do if I’m not interested in proceeding?
    If you are not interested in proceeding with the objection, you should return the “Notice of Intent to Proceed” indicating that you DO NOT intend to proceed.

      What should I do if I’m not an affected party?
    If you are not an affected party or do not wish to participate in the litigation, you should return the “Notice of Appearance” indicating that you DO NOT intend to participate.

      Whom should I contact if I have questions?
    If you have questions about any aspect of the Special Master process, please contact the following individual:

    Blake Bingham, P.E.
    Assistant State Engineer – Adjudication
    Tel: 801-538-7345
    Email: waterrights_adjudication@utah.gov

    Disclaimer: The information provided above is for informational purposes only and not to be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal counsel.