Water rights are property rights which may be purchased, sold, or transferred. Municipalities, industries and developers seek firm supplies that will carry them through periods of drought, creating an increasingly active market for water and water rights. Transactions involving water rights can be complex and sophisticated, requiring an understanding of corporate and real estate law, in addition to the intricacies of water law, and further requiring experience in negotiating and drafting a variety of instruments. No water right should be acquired without an intensive investigation of its historic use and its ownership, both of which affect the purchase price. Historic use investigations are generally performed by a team of water lawyers and water engineers, whose task it is to estimate the amount of water which eventually can be devoted to the new proposed use of the water.
The Ellison Schneider & Harris water practice group has performed numerous investigations of the historic use and ownership of existing water rights, and we have extensive experience with structuring, negotiating, and preparing documents for such water right transactions. The proceedings to obtain approval of the plans or to test the sufficiency of another's plans are typically complex and, along with legal representation, require the assistance of technical experts.