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Nibley buys more water rights to stay ahead in development

December 11th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Max Parker Dahl

NIBLEY– The City Council approved the purchase of 24 acre-feet of water rights at the Dec. 2 meeting. The water will be used for irrigation of city parks, allowing citizens more utility from the water already owned by the city.

“Negotiations had been going on for about three months, but it just seemed to work out that the owner, Morley Cox, wanted to sell it by the end of the year,” said City Manager Larry Anhder. “This acquisition will save an awful lot of water for the city.”

The council approved the purchase 4-1, with Councilman Scott Larsen dissenting, and will move forward with plans to integrate the acquisition into the city’s water supply. Owning the water rights instead of shares will allow the city to transfer water where it is needed without utilizing a third-party irrigation company, according to Anhder.

Water rights in Utah follow other western states that are regulated by the doctrine of prior appropriation. This principle establishes priority for those entitled to water use by the earliest date of “continued beneficial use.” Purchase of the water rights will give Nibley city premier priority.

Nibley has been the fastest growing city in Cache Valley in the past decade and is focused on future growth, Anhder said.

“Part of our job as administrators is to keep one eye on today and one eye on tomorrow,” said Anhder, “that’s why I’m always cross-eyed. Whenever you are taking water from the ground you need a replacement for that water by state law; this will be much more economical for our current use and helpful in the future.”

Nibley is being emulated by other cities in Cache Valley in its procedural requirement of water rights as a condition of development. Although initially met with resistance, this practice is what kept Nibley “even with, or even a little ahead of water needs for development” throughout the housing boom.

“We have been requiring for the water rights for 20 years,” said Anhder. “Other cities are looking to us because they are scrambling to keep up with the water demand.”

This new purchase does not collaborate with either the 2 million-gallon water tank under construction, or the proposed sports complex to be built to accommodate city sponsored athletics.


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