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Subdivision Development and Water Right Transfers. Dealing with the Conflict between Historic and New Land Use March 6, 2012. Today’s Presentation. Introduction Issues Raised by Subdivision Development Wyoming Population Growth Wyoming’s Subdivision Statute

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subdivision development and water right transfers

Subdivision Development and Water Right Transfers

Dealing with the Conflict between Historic and New Land Use

March 6, 2012

today s presentation
Today’s Presentation
  • Introduction
  • Issues Raised by Subdivision Development
  • Wyoming Population Growth
  • Wyoming’s Subdivision Statute
  • County Regulation of Subdivisions
  • Options Under Wyoming Law
  • Irrigation District Concerns
  • Conclusion
  • Wyoming Water Law
  • History of Subdivisions and Water Rights
issues raised by subdivisions
Issues Raised by Subdivisions
  • Inadequacy of Delivery Systems
  • Ground Water Impacts
    • Quantity
    • Quality
  • Liability Concerns
inadequacy of delivery systems
Inadequacy of Delivery Systems
  • Irrigation Systems not Constructed to Deliver Water to Small Acreages
  • Historical Points of Diversion and Means of Conveyance
ground water impacts
Ground Water Impacts
  • Reduction of Surface Irrigation results in:
    • Ground Water Quantity Reductions
    • Ground Water Quality Concerns
liability concerns
Liability Concerns
  • Always an Issue
  • Increased Population increases chances of incidents
wyoming population growth and land use
Wyoming Population Growth and Land Use
  • Population Change
  • Patterns of Land Use
  • Status of Agricultural Lands
  • Demographics
  • Impacts of Residential Development
wyoming subdivision statute 18 5 301 18 5 315



Permit Required


Minimum Requirements

Planning Commission

Board Approval

Permit Fee

Investigatory Powers


Minimum Provisions

Wyoming Subdivision Statute (18-5-301 – 18-5-315)
w s 18 5 301 authority
W.S. 18-5-301: Authority
  • Vested in Board of County Commissioners in which the land is located
  • Each County approaches this Issue Differently
w s 18 5 302 definitions
W.S. 18-5-302: Definitions
  • Person: includes individual, corporation, association.
  • Subdivision: creation of division of a lot, tract, parcel or other unit of land for immediate or future purpose of sale or development for residential, recreational, industrial, commercial or public uses.
  • Water Supply System: . . .Separate water supply systems used solely for irrigation or stock water are not included.
w s 18 5 303 exemptions from provisions
W.S. 18-5-303: Exemptions from Provisions
  • Single Gift or Sale to Member of Landowner’s Immediate Family
  • Eminent Domain
  • Boundary Line Adjustments
  • Creates Cemetery Lots
  • Parcels are 35 Acres or Larger
w s 18 5 304 permit required
W.S. 18-5-304: Permit Required
  • No person shall subdivide land or commence the physical layout or construction of a subdivision without first obtaining a subdivision permit from the board of the county in which the land is located.
w s 18 5 305 enforcement
W.S. 18-5-305: Enforcement
  • In accordance with Wyoming Administrative Procedures Act
  • Counties shall adopt rules and regulations as necessary to implement provisions of Act and insure compliance with intent and purpose of the article
w s 18 5 306 minimum requirements for permits
Compliance with zoning regulations

Survey Plat


Sewage System Study


Water Supply System Study

Roadway Access

Evidence of Financial Resources

Proof of Notice

Water Rights

Conservation District review (60 days)

DEQ Review of sewage and water supply systems (30 days)

W.S. 18-5-306: Minimum Requirements for Permits
w s 18 5 306 a xi appurtenant water rights
W.S. 18-5-306(a)(xi): Appurtenant Water Rights
  • Prior to Final Approval, subdivider shall provide:
    • Evidence of relinquishment to SEO (Authorization to Detach) OR
    • Evidence of petitions to Board of Control OR
    • Water Distribution Plan approved by SEO AND
    • If located within Irrigation District, evidence that plan has been submitted AND
    • Evidence of notice on all offers and solicitations
county regulation of subdivisions
County Regulation of Subdivisions
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Summary of Wyoming Counties
options under wyoming law
Options Under Wyoming Law
  • Voluntary Abandonment of Water Rights
  • Transfer of Water Rights
  • Retain Water Rights
    • Water Distribution Plan
  • 4th Option: ADWR
option 1 abandonment
Option # 1 - Abandonment
  • Voluntary Abandonment
    • Removing water right from land forever
    • Requires Petition to State Engineer or BOC (depends on Status)
option 2 transfer
Option #2 - Transfer
  • Change Place of Use from the Subdivided Lands to Other Irrigable, Non-Permitted Lands
  • Requires Petition to State Engineer or Board of Control (depends on water right status)
option 3 water distribution plan
Option #3 – Water Distribution Plan
  • Retains Water Rights on Subdvided Lands
  • Requires Submittal and Approval by SEO
  • May Require Petition to State Engineer or BOC
  • Bonding Issues
option 4 adwr
Option #4 - ADWR
  • Authorization for Detachment of Water Rights
  • Allows Five Years to Transfer the Water Right or Voluntary Abandonment
irrigation districts
Irrigation Districts
  • Statute was Revised to Change Timing of Involvement to Address:
    • Water Rights
    • Irrigation District Infrastructure
    • Easements
w s 18 5 306 a xi d
W.S. 18-5-306(a)(xi)(D)
  • If the subdivision is located within the boundaries of an irrigation district that is subject to the provisions of Title 41, chapter 7 of the Wyoming statutes, the application shall include a review and recommendations from the irrigation district regarding the attached water rights and the irrigation district’s easements.
w s 18 5 306 a xi e
W.S. 18-5-306(a)(xi)(E)
  • If the subdivision will create a significant additional burden or risk of liability to the irrigation district, company, association or remaining appropriators including appropriators on an unorganized ditch, the applicant shall provide an adequate and responsible plan to reduce or eliminate the additonal burden or risk of liability.
address id impacts
Address ID Impacts
  • County Regulations
  • Statutory Changes
    • Separated Title 41 Districts from Ditch Companies etc.
    • Addressed Timing
the subdivision gap
The Subdivision Gap
  • The Board may EXEMPT from the minimum requirements the subdivision of one or more units of land into not more than a total of five units of land
  • Lots that are 35 acres or larger are EXEMPT (except W.S. 18-5-316)
w s 18 5 312 enforcement
W.S. 18-5-312: Enforcement
  • Enforceable by all appropriate legal remedies including to, but not limited to:
    • Injunctive Relief
    • Writ of Mandamus
  • Board may request Attorney General to initiate civil or criminal proceedings
iv conclusion
IV. Conclusion
  • Statute Provides Reasonable Options
    • Timing of Completing Changes
    • Enforcement of Option
  • Gaps in Law make Administration Difficult
  • Irrigation Districts are Struggling
  • Subdivisions Raise Complex Issues


Kara Brighton

Hageman & Brighton, P.C.

222 E. 21st Street

Cheyenne, WY 82001