Utah city buys historic water rights for sustainability

Cedar City, Utah
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October 3, 2023 — A Utah city voted to pay over $11 million for old water rights.

St. George NewsOpens in a new tab. reports that on September 13, the Cedar City Council voted 4-1 in favor of an agreement to purchase 942.75 acre-feet of water from LeBaron Ranch Holdings for just over $12,100 per acre-foot, totaling approximately $11,412,997. About 90% of the water purchased from LeBaron Ranch Holdings is dated 1860, with the most recent dated 1934.

Under the water management plan set by the Utah State Engineer for basin 73, where Cedar City is situated, it is unlikely that the LeBaron Ranch Holdings water rights will be affected. This plan is designed to progressively decrease the permissible water depletion to determine the sustainable groundwater extraction levels.

According to St. George NewsOpens in a new tab., the LeBaron agreement “comes on the heels of several other water purchases, the largest of which will cost the city over $12.8 million for 1,002 acre-feet of water from the Holt Family of the Escalante Farms Company in Enterprise.” The costs to the City’s taxpayers and the value of old water rights factored into the Council’s consideration. Additional water purchases will not be needed in the foreseeable future.

Cedar CityOpens in a new tab. is the largest community in Iron County and is located at the mouth of Coal Creek in south-central Utah. As of the 2020 censusOpens in a new tab., the city had a population of 35,235, up from 28,857 in the 2010 census.¬† The City’s website notes that its elevation is 5,800 feet above sea level, and it lies in a semi-arid part of the state with 10,000-foot mountains to the east and a vast desert area to the west.

Image:

Main Street Historic District, Cedar City, UtahOpens in a new tab.. Sept. 2005 by Cory Maylett. Shared under Creative Commons license via Wikimedia Commons.

Deborah

Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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