Original Posting: September 24, 1999
Updated: July 27, 2004

DESCRIPTION:   Covering most of Washington County and the western part of Kane
               County, this area reaches from T37S to T43S, and is bordered on the west
               by Nevada and on the south by Arizona.  It includes the main stem of the
               Virgin River from below Zion National Park, through the Hurricane Cliffs
               to St. George and south to Arizona.  Also, in this area are several major
               tributaries: 1) the East Fork of the Virgin River traversing Long Valley
               and the White Cliffs area, 2) the North Fork of the Virgin River from
               Kolob Terrace through Zion Canyon, 3) North Creek out of Kolob
               Terrace, 4) Ash Creek from the New Harmony area, 5) Quail Creek from
               the Pine Valley Mountains, and 6) the Santa Clara River entering above
               St. George.  Several reservoirs store winter flows to supplement summer
               needs.  These include Quail Creek, Gunlock, Kolob, Ash Creek, and
               Baker.  A new reservoir is currently under construction at Sand Hollow
               near Hurricane.  The area is bounded on the east by the 9,630 foot
               Paunsagunt Plateau and on the north by the 7,514 foot Cougar Mountains,
               the 10,238 foot Pine Valley Mountain, and the 10,027 foot Markagunt
               Plateau.  The lowest point is where Beaver Dam Wash crosses the border
               into Arizona at 2,199 feet, giving the area a total relief of about 8,040 feet. 
               Click here here to see a map of the area.

MANAGEMENT:    Rights in the river and its tributaries have been allocated under several
               court decrees including the Santa Clara Decree in 1922 with a
               supplemental decree in 1928, the Quail Creek Decree in 1923, and the
               Virgin River Decree in 1926 with a supplemental and final decree in 1931.

               Water rights in this area are currently being compiled into Proposed
               Determinations of Water Rights under the court ordered general
               adjudication of the Virgin River.  The Beaver Dam Wash and Santa Clara
               River Proposed Determination (Book 1) was submitted to the court in
               1988 while the North Fork and East Fork of the Virgin River Proposed
               Determination (Book 2) was submitted in 1992.  No comprehensive pre-
               trial orders have been issued on either Book 1 or Book 2.

               An Addendum to Book 1 was distributed in September 1999 in
               anticipation of a pre-trial order that will affirm all rights excepting those
               on which objections have been properly filed.  In February of 2002, a
               "Partial Interlocutory Decree" was entered by the Fifth District Court
               affirming a number of water rights from Book 1.  The rights affirmed are
               those related to a series of agreements designed to create a federal reserved
               water right for the Shivwits Band of Paiute Indians, whose reservation
               lands are located in the Santa Clara River drainage.

               In June/July of 2000, a Proposed Determination (Book 6) covering the
               state originated and federal reserved rights within Zion National Park was
               distributed.  In January of 2001, an "Interlocutory Decree" was entered by
               the Fifth District Court affirming the rights in Book 6.

               There are three state-administered surface water distribution systems in
               this area: the East Fork of the Virgin River, the Santa Clara River, and the
               Virgin River.  These systems are under the jurisdiction of the East Fork of
               the Virgin River Commissioner, the Santa Clara River Commissioner, and
               the Virgin River Commissioner, respectively.

               Because this area is tributary to the Colorado River, it is covered under the
               Colorado River Compact of 1922 and the Mexican Treaty of 1944.
               However, there are no interstate compacts which specifically apportion the
               waters of the Virgin River basin.  There are three federal reserved water
               right agreements in force in this area.  The Zion National Park Water Right
               Settlement Agreement deals with National Park Service water rights
               within the park and affects the administration of the North Fork and East
               Fork of the Virgin River drainages.  The Shivwits Band of the Paiute
               Indian Tribe of Utah Water Rights Settlement Agreement quantifies the
               water rights of the Band on the Santa Clara River.  The Water Rights
               Settlement Agreement for Leap, South Ash, Wet Sandy, Leeds and Quail
               Creeks deals with water right claims in the Dixie National Forest on the
               southeast flank of the Pine Valley Mountains.

               Click here to see statistics for this area. 

SOURCES:       SURFACE AND GROUND WATER - The waters of this area are
               considered to be fully appropriated with a few exceptions described below. 
               New diversions and uses must be accomplished by change applications
               based on valid existing water rights.  Fixed-time projects involving surface
               waters must be accomplished by temporary change applications on valid
               existing water rights, which require annual renewal. Change applications
               proposing a change from surface to underground sources, or vice versa,
               will be critically reviewed to assure hydrologic connection, that there are
               no enlargements of the underlying right(s), and that there will be no
               impairment of other rights.

                      The State Engineer believes there is some unappropriated water available
               in the aquifer system of the Canaan Gap drainage east of the Hurricane
               Cliffs  and on the Beaver Dam Wash drainage.  Domestic filings, limited to the 
               requirements of one family, 1/4 acre of irrigation, and up to ten head of livestock 
               (1.73 acre-feet), or for an equivalent amount of water for other uses, are individually
               reviewed for potential interference with existing water rights, and some
               have been approved.

                      Applications are generally approved upon showing of an immediate need
               for water and with the presumptions that the applicant has all necessary
               resources and authorities diligently develop the proposed beneficial uses
               of water and to file proof.  Typically, a period of five years is allowed for
               full development with extensions of time granted only under unique
               circumstances clearly beyond the control of the applicant.

GENERAL:       Applications are advertised in the Spectrum/Daily News or the Southern
               Utah News, depending on the county in which the water is to be diverted. 
               Filings that may involve the diversion of water in Utah for use in Arizona
               or Nevada (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, varies
               between 6.0 acre-feet per acre per year (af/ac) in the low desert to 3.0 af/ac
               in the highlands.  (Click here to see the irrigation duty map of this area). 
               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.  There are approximately 4,400 water rights on file with the
               State Engineer in this area.  This area is administered by the Southwest
               Regional Office in Cedar City.

REFERENCES:    Technical Publication No. 15; Water from Bedrock in the Colorado
               Plateau of Utah; Utah State Engineer; 1966.

               Technical Publication No. 40, Groundwater Conditions in the Central
               Virgin River Basin, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1972.

               Technical Publication No. 61, Groundwater Conditions in the Navajo
               Sandstone in the Central Virgin River Basin, Utah; Utah Department of
               Natural Resources; 1978.

               Technical Publication No. 70, Groundwater Conditions in the Upper
               Virgin River and Kanab Creek Basins Area, Utah, with Emphasis on the
               Navajo Sandstone; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1981.

               Technical Publication No. 83, Reconnaissance of the Quality of Surface
               Water in the Upper Virgin River Basin, Utah, Arizona and Nevada, 1981-
               82; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 1985.

               Technical Publication No. 106, Seepage Study of the Virgin River from
               Ash Creek to Harrisburg Dome, Washington County, Utah; Utah
               Department of Natural Resources; 1995.

               Technical Publication No. 116, Geohydrology and numerical simulation of
               ground-water flow in the Central Virgin River basin of Iron and
               Washington Counties, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; 2000.

               Water-Resources Investigative Report 95-4173, Simulated Effects of 
Proposed Ground-Water Pumping in 17 Basins in East-Central and Southern Nevada;
U.S. Geological Survey; 1995 (viewing this document requires the DjVu browser plugin available from LizardTech) MODELING: Regional Ground-Water Flow, Carbonate-Rock Province, Nevada, Utah, and Adjacent States; USGS Open-File Reports 93-170 and 93-420; 1993. Gunlock Area Ground-water Flow Model; 2000. Central Virgin Navajo-Kayenta Ground-water Flow Model; 2000. Upper Ash Creek Ground-water Flow Model; 2000.