Friday, September 11, 2009

Part 2: Vested Water Rights

What is a “Vested Water Right”? On June 28, 1945 the Kansas Water Appropriation Act became effective. It made the state of Kansas an “Appropriation” state rather than a “Riparian” state as far as basic water doctrine goes. After enactment, all water rights in Kansas (groundwater or surface water) were considered in a priority system by date of application. The first new (post June 28, 1945) water right applied for got appropriation right # 1.

It was all the existing (pre June 28, 1945) water uses needing to be considered by the new appropriation system that became the “Vested Water Rights”. In essence, all vested water rights in Kansas represent uses that were ongoing (or specifically under development) on June 28, 1945. All vested water rights are “senior” to (pre-date) all appropriation rights, but they all have the same priority date among themselves. In other words, there is no seniority system for vested water rights in Kansas.

The legislature closed the filing process for claiming vested water rights on July 1, 1980. Now, only domestic water rights remain un-quantified (not accounted for).

The last Vested Water Right tidbit is: KSA 82a-703 says: Nothing contained in this act shall impair the vested water right of any person except for nonuse. Vested rights seem pretty secure.

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