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Bill Detail: SB22-114

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Title Fire Suppression Ponds Water Rights
Status Governor Signed (06/08/2022)
Bill Subjects
  • Water
House Sponsors M. Catlin (R)
Senate Sponsors D. Hisey (R)
House Committee Agriculture, Livestock, and Water
Senate Committee Agriculture and Natural Resources
Date Introduced 02/03/2022
Summary

Section 1 of the bill makes legislative findings and declarations.
Section 2 allows a board of county commissioners (board) to apply to the
state engineer for the designation of a pond as a fire suppression pond.
The director of the division of fire prevention and control (director) in the
department of public safety is required to promulgate rules to establish
criteria for boards, in consultation with fire protection districts, to use to
identify and evaluate potential fire suppression ponds. For each pond that
is identified and under consideration as a potential fire suppression pond,

a board must provide notice of such fact to the state engineer and to
interested parties included in the substitute water supply plan notification
list established for the water division in which the pond is located.
Section 2 also prohibits the state engineer from draining any pond:
  • While the pond is under consideration for designation as a
fire suppression pond;
  • If the state engineer has designated the pond as a fire
suppression pond; or
  • On and after the effective date of the bill, and until the date
upon which the director promulgates rules, with
exceptions.
Section 2 also states that a fire suppression pond and the water
associated with it:
  • Are not considered a water right;
  • Do not have a priority for the purpose of determining water
rights; and
  • May not be adjudicated as a water right.
Section 3 requires the state engineer to review applications
received from boards and, at the state engineer's discretion, designate
ponds as fire suppression ponds. An application is presumed to be
approved if the state engineer does not respond to the application within
63 days after the application is received by the state engineer. The state
engineer may not designate any pond as a fire suppression pond unless the
pond existed as of January 1, 1975.
Section 3 also allows the state engineer to impose reasonable
requirements on a board as a condition of designating a pond as a fire
suppression pond and requires a board and a fire protection district to
inspect a fire suppression pond at least annually.
The designation of a pond as a fire suppression pond expires 20
years after the date of the designation. Before the expiration, the board
and the fire protection district must perform a needs assessment of the
pond. If the needs assessment demonstrates that the pond is in compliance
with criteria established in the director's rules, the board and fire
protection district shall notify the state engineer of such fact, and the state
engineer shall redesignate the pond as a fire suppression pond. If the
needs assessment demonstrates that the pond is not in compliance with
the criteria, the board and fire protection district may either:
  • Notify the state engineer that the designation of the pond as
a fire suppression pond should be rescinded or allowed to
expire; or
  • Provide to the state engineer a plan and a timeline for
bringing the pond back into compliance with such criteria.
Section 4 states that the designation of fire suppression ponds by
the state engineer does not cause material injury to vested water rights.
1

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