King v. St. ClairAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court overruling the State Engineer’s decision denying Rodney St. Clair’s application for a permit to temporarily change the point of diversion of the underground water source on property he purchased in 2013 from an abandoned well to another location on his property. The State Engineer found the prior owner of the property had established a right to appropriate the underground water but that a subsequent owner abandoned that right through years of nonuse. In overruling the State Engineer’s decision, the district court found insufficient evidence that any owner of the property intended to abandon the property’s water right. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) an extended period of nonuse of water does not alone establish clear and convincing evidence that a property owner intended to abandon a water right connected to the property; and (2) in this case, there was no additional evidence indicating an intent to abandon, and therefore, the State Engineer’s finding of abandonment was unsupported by substantial evidence.