Washington County (Utah). County Recorder Water certificates and deeds
These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.
An agency history is available.
Scope and Content
For a time, the Washington County Recorder maintained separate volumes (Record Books V 2, W, W 2 and W 3) to record official documents relating to water rights and irrigation. These records include documents validating the right to use water, including water certificates, notices of appropriation, and certificates of appropriation. They include a variety of deeds conveying water rights, including quit claim deeds, warranty deeds, and agreements. They also include documents relating to disputes over water rights as they were settled by the Water Commission or by 5th District Court. The books also contain extraneous documents. In particular, Book V 2 includes a section of powers of attorney.
The Territorial Legislature passed the first act establishing and regulating water rights in 1880 (Laws of the Territory of Utah, 24th session of the Legislative Assembly, Chapter 20). The Legislature appointed the selectmen of each county to act as a Water Commission to generally oversee the distribution and use of water within their county. The Water Commission evaluated water resources, adjudicated all claims for water use, and issued Water Certificates validating rights to use water and specifying the amount. The law required that these be filed with the county recorder.
The State Legislature revised this procedure in 1897 (Laws of Utah, 1897, Chapter 52). The new law stipulated that rights to unappropriated water could be had by posting notice of a claim. Any person desiring to appropriate water need only post a notice at the point of intended diversion, and also at the nearest post office. On the notice, he needed to state the amount of water he intended to claim, the purpose for which it was intended, the means of diversion, and if for irrigation, the number of acres he intended to irrigated. Within twenty days after posting this claim, the claimant was required to file a Notice of Appropriation with the county recorder. In addition to the information on the notice he had posted, this notice was also to include the name of the stream and a description of the point of diversion.
In 1905, the Legislature further codified laws regulating irrigation and water rights (Laws of Utah, 1905, Chapter 108). It authorized the State Engineer to grant rights to any unappropriated water within the State. Upon satisfactory completion of the application process, the State Engineer issued a Certificate of Appropriation, and copies were filed in the State Engineer's office as well as with the county recorder. The Legislature further confirmed that when land was sold, the appurtenant water rights could be either transferred, retained or conveyed separately. Water rights are transferred by deed in the same manner as land.
The documents in Books V 2, W, W 1 and W 2 shift from Water Certificates to Notices of Appropriation, and then to Certificates of Appropriation, as the jurisdiction over water rights changed. Many Water Certificates originally issued by the Kane County Water Commission were later recorded in Washington County, because eastern Washington County was originally part of Kane County. The Washington County Water Commission or 5th District Court arbitrated disputes over water rights, and often documents relating to these cases were recorded. Water deeds sometimes transferred water rights from one individual to another, but most frequently transferred rights from an individual to a city or irrigation company. In 1935 the recorder filed numerous quit claim deeds transferring individual water rights to the City of St. George in response to a 5th District Court decision in the case of R.E. Caldwell, State Engineer vs Brigham Carpenter et al.
Chronological by recording date.
Water claims and breeders certificates from Washington County (Utah). County Clerk, Series 23254, contain minutes of meetings held by the Washington County Water Commission, established in 1880.
Deeds (Washington) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23262, contain water deeds recorded after 1881.
Deeds (Silver Reef) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23263, contain additional deeds and other documents relating to water rights.
Deeds (Pine Valley) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23264, contain additional deeds and other documents relating to water rights.
Deeds (Toquerville) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23265, contain additional deeds and other documents relating to water rights.
Deeds (Saint George) from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23286, contain additional deeds and other documents relating to water rights
Miscellaneous records index from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23468, provides reference to some of the documents in this series.
Powers of attorney index from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 23685, contain powers of attorney indexed by this series.
Grantee indexes from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 82703, provide reference to documents in this series.
Grantor indexes from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 82704, provide reference to documents in this series.
Water claims index from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 82708, provides reference to the records in these books as well as to documents relating to water rights recorded in other series.
Agreements and leases from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 84209, contains leases and agreements recorded before 1923.
Deeds from Washington County (Utah). County Recorder, Series 84219, contain early deeds relating to water rights.
This series is classified as Public.
Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.
Washington County Water Certificates and Deeds were microfilmed by Utah State Archives in July 1973 and processed by Rosemary Cundiff in October 2000.
Indexes: In addition to other series of broad indexes which cover these books, the county recorder included alphabetical indexes at the beginning or end of each volume. The index at the end of Book V 1 includes the powers of attorney also recorded in that book.
- Water rights--Washington County (Utah).
- Washington County (Utah)--Recording and registration.
Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.