Utah

Colorado

New Mexico

Prior appropriation doctrine; all water is property of public, with water rights allocated for beneficial uses

Prior appropriation doctrine; although water is considered to be the property of the state, a property right exists in the priority to use water

Prior appropriation doctrine; all natural waters within the state are declared to be public and subject to appropriation for beneficial use

Agriculture, culinary, domestic, industrial, irrigation, manufacturing, milling, mining, municipal, power, stock watering, instream flow (recreation and preservation of the natural stream environment), storage (including water supply, aquatic culture, and recreation)

Statutorily defined as “the use of that amount of water that is reasonable and appropriate under reasonably efficient practices to accomplish without waste the purpose for which the appropriation is lawfully made.” Specific uses are not designated but have included aesthetics and preservation of natural environments, augmentation, commercial, domestic, fire protection, fishery, geothermal, groundwater recharge, industrial irrigation, livestock, minimum flow, municipal, power, recreation, silvicultural, snowmaking, wildlife watering, wildlife habitat, instream flow

No official state designations; however, beneficial uses in the past have included agriculture, commercial, domestic, industrial, recreational uses, state conservation goals, and stock watering

State divided into “groundwater areas;” policies are similar to surface water, but permit approval criteria may differ by area

Must obtain permit from State Engineer to drill a well; if “tributary” to a surface stream, use of the groundwater falls under the prior appropriation system, and water rights must obtained; in nontributary aquifers the water is allocated based on the percentage of land owned on the surface above the aquifer

The State Engineer establishes and regulates water use in declared “underground water basins” to protect prior appropriation, ensure water is put to beneficial use, and maintain orderly development of the state’s water resources



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