2013 ORS § 537.348¹
Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right
  • priority dates
  • split use

(1) Any person may purchase or lease all or a portion of an existing water right or accept a gift of all or a portion of an existing water right for conversion to an in-stream water right. Any water right converted to an in-stream water right under this section shall retain the priority date of the water right purchased, leased or received as a gift. At the request of the person the Water Resources Commission shall issue a new certificate for the in-stream water right showing the original priority date of the purchased, gifted or leased water right. Except as provided in subsections (2) to (6) of this section, a person who transfers a water right by purchase, lease or gift under this subsection shall comply with the requirements for the transfer of a water right under ORS 540.505 (Definitions) to 540.585 (Temporary transfers within Deschutes River Basin).

(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (6) of this section, any person who has an existing water right may lease all or a portion of the existing water right for use as an in-stream water right for a specified period without the loss of the original priority date. During the term of the lease, the use of the water right as an in-stream water right shall be considered a beneficial use. The term of the lease may not exceed five years. There is no limitation on the number of times that the lease may be renewed. However, the total period for which a water right may be leased for split use as described in subsection (3) of this section may not exceed 10 years regardless of the number of leases or renewals of leases issued for the water right.

(3) A lease of all or a portion of an existing water right for use as an in-stream water right under subsection (2) of this section may allow the split use of the water between the existing water right and the in-stream water right during the same calendar year, provided:

(a) The uses of the existing water right and the in-stream water right are not concurrent; and

(b) The holders of the water rights measure and report to the Water Resources Department the use of the existing water right and the in-stream water right.

(4) A person who has an existing water right and wishes to lease the water right as described in subsection (2) of this section must file a request and obtain department approval of the lease. Upon receipt of the request, the department shall provide notice of the request by inclusion in the weekly notice published by the department. Any allegation of injury must be delivered to the department no later than 21 days after publication of the request in the weekly notice.

(5) After publishing notice of a request made under subsection (2) of this section and allowing time for the delivery of allegations of injury, the department shall issue an order approving the request if the department finds that the leasing of the water right for in-stream use can be effected without injury to other existing water rights or can be conditioned to prevent injury to other existing water rights. If the lease is for the split use of water between the existing water right and the in-stream water right during the same calendar year, the conditions imposed in the order approving the request must include, but need not be limited to, compliance with subsection (3) of this section.

(6) The department at any time may revoke or modify an order issued for a lease under subsection (2) of this section if the department determines that the use of the water right for in-stream use under the lease has resulted in or may result in injury to an existing water right. [1987 c.859 §9; 2001 c.205 §§1,2; 2013 c.165 §1]

Note: The amendments to 537.348 (Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right) by section 2, chapter 165, Oregon Laws 2013, become operative January 2, 2024. See section 3, chapter 165, Oregon Laws 2013. The text that is operative on and after January 2, 2024, is set forth for the users convenience.

537.348 (Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right). (1) Any person may purchase or lease all or a portion of an existing water right or accept a gift of all or a portion of an existing water right for conversion to an in-stream water right. Any water right converted to an in-stream water right under this section shall retain the priority date of the water right purchased, leased or received as a gift. At the request of the person the Water Resources Commission shall issue a new certificate for the in-stream water right showing the original priority date of the purchased, gifted or leased water right. Except as provided in subsections (2) to (5) of this section, a person who transfers a water right by purchase, lease or gift under this subsection shall comply with the requirements for the transfer of a water right under ORS 540.505 (Definitions) to 540.585 (Temporary transfers within Deschutes River Basin).

(2) Subject to subsections (3) to (5) of this section, any person who has an existing water right may lease all or a portion of the existing water right for use as an in-stream water right for a specified period without the loss of the original priority date. During the term of the lease, the use of the water right as an in-stream water right shall be considered a beneficial use. The term of the lease may not exceed five years. There is no limitation on the number of times that the lease may be renewed.

(3) A person who has an existing water right and wishes to lease the water right as described in subsection (2) of this section must file a request and obtain department approval of the lease. Upon receipt of the request, the department shall provide notice of the request by inclusion in the weekly notice published by the department. Any allegation of injury must be delivered to the department no later than 21 days after publication of the request in the weekly notice.

(4) After publishing notice of a request made under subsection (2) of this section and allowing time for the delivery of allegations of injury, the department shall issue an order approving the request if the department finds that the leasing of the water right for in-stream use can be effected without injury to other existing water rights or can be conditioned to prevent injury to other existing water rights.

(5) The department at any time may revoke or modify an order issued for a lease under subsection (2) of this section if the department determines that the use of the water right for in-stream use under the lease has resulted in or may result in injury to an existing water right.

Note: Section 5 (2), chapter 165, Oregon Laws 2013, provides:

Sec. 5. (2) Notwithstanding the amendments to ORS 537.348 (Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right) by section 2 of this 2013 Act, any lease or lease renewal allowing the split use of water between an existing water right and an in-stream water right during the same calendar year and having a term that began before the operative date of the amendments to ORS 537.348 (Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right) by section 2 of this 2013 Act [January 2, 2024] may continue in effect until the earlier of the expiration of the term or five years after the operative date of the amendments to ORS 537.348 (Purchase, lease or gift of water right for conversion to in-stream water right) by section 2 of this 2013 Act. This subsection does not allow the total period for which a water right may be leased for the split use of water during the same calendar year to exceed 10 years. [2013 c.165 §5(2)]