Friday, November 20, 2015

Paradise ponders...

Paradise ponders...  We're looking at buying the two parcels immediately adjacent to the cabin we just purchased up near Newton.  These parcels would add about 10 acres to the area that my brother Scott could work with, and they come with water rights for irrigation water and a well.  That means we could develop the parcels (add a well, driveway, etc.) and someday sell them.  It also means that my brother could grow things on that land for the next ten or fifteen years, until the point we wanted to sell.

I've written before that there was a challenge to this plan – to wit, the parcels have the water rights (for irrigation), but no way to actually deliver the water to the property.  The canal from which the water would be drawn is a mere hundred yards away, but for some reason the water company was denying permission to connect and draw water.  We made our offer on those two parcels contingent on that problem being solved, and the sellers are in the process of attempting to do just that.  I offered to help where it made sense.

It turns out that the very first step could use a particular attribute that I possess: being an outsider with no particular axe to grind with the water company.  We needed to gather some information to help us understand the water company's position, so yesterday I met a member of the water company's Board.  It was fascinating to hear the other side of the story.

It turns out there are two main issues. 

The first is that the water company isn't certain that the parcels we've got an offer on are actually part of their designated area for delivering water to.  That's because the parcels are just south of the southernmost end of the water company's distribution canal, an area that's close to (and possibly over) the edge of their “decree area”.  That “decree area” refers to the decree that established the water company (along with a hundred or so other water companies in the area); that decree defines their distribution area. 

The second is that this particular water company made their shares freely transferable, and that led to an unanticipated consequence.  The way development of the area panned out, more people wanted water at the southern (downstream) end of their canal than on the upstream end.  Because the shares were freely transferable, that led to a gradual shift in the share ownership toward the south.  Eventually that got to the point where the capacity of the canal to deliver water was exceeded, and the only mechanism the water company had to control this was to start refusing to connect anyone with shares that originated upstream of the point where they wanted to draw water.


For our sellers to get the water company's approval, they have to show two things.  First, that the parcels are actually part of the decree area.  That one is at least easy to attack – the sellers need to hire someone who can read the legal description of the decree area (gobbledygook to normal mortals) and figure out whether they are.  Second, they have to show the provenance of the water rights are not from upstream.  I'm not sure how they can do that, as it will require tracing the chain of share ownership.  I believe (since water rights are real property in Utah) that all of this chain is recorded at the County office, so it might not be hard to do that.

On a completely different note, Debbie and I took a drive up the dirt road to Liberty last night.  I was very sleepy (I'd gotten up particularly early yesterday morning), but nonetheless we saw some deer, about a million turkeys, a colony of muskrats, a kingfisher, and ... best of all ... a bald eagle.  That eagle is almost certainly a migrator; this is the season they are flying south through our area.  Hopefully we'll see more, but we got a great view of this fellow, just sitting up in a tree glaring at us.  Or considering us for supper.  Probably the latter :)

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