2013 ORS § 539.240¹
Claim to undetermined right to appropriate surface water
  • registration statement
  • contents
  • effect of failure to file
  • recognizing changes to right
  • rules

(1) Any person, corporation or governmental agency claiming an undetermined vested right, federal reserved right or right derived from such rights to appropriate surface water under ORS 539.010 (Protection of water rights vested or initiated prior to February 24, 1909) shall file in the office of the Water Resources Department, on or before December 31, 1992, a registration statement of the claim.

(2) Upon request, the Water Resources Director shall make available a blank registration statement required under subsection (1) of this section. The claimant shall complete the registration statement by providing the information necessary for determination of the claimed vested or reserved right. The registration statement shall include at least the following:

(a) The name and mailing address of the claimant.

(b) The claimed beneficial use of the water and the amount used.

(c) The stream from which the water is diverted.

(d) A map from a survey prepared by a water right examiner certified under ORS 537.798 (Water right examiner certificate) showing:

(A) The location of the point of diversion in reference to an established corner of the United States Public Lands Survey or, if within a platted and recorded subdivision, from an established lot corner of the subdivision.

(B) The location of the place of use by quarter-quarter section of the United States Public Lands Survey. If the use is for irrigation, the number of acres irrigated within each quarter-quarter section.

(e) The time of commencement of the claimed use of water.

(f) The times of beginning and completion of any division and distribution works used to appropriate the claimed use of water and the water carrying capacity of such works, if known.

(g) The location of the place of use by quarter-quarter section of the United States Public Lands Survey. If the use is for irrigation, the number of acres irrigated within each quarter-quarter section during the first year of use and during each subsequent year until the full amount of claimed use was accomplished.

(h) The period of the year during which the claimed use of water is usually made.

(3) The failure of any person, corporation or governmental agency to file a registration statement for an undetermined vested right or federal reserved right shall create a rebuttable presumption that the claim has been abandoned.

(4) For good cause shown, any person who fails to file a registration statement within the period set forth in subsection (1) of this section may file within one year after December 31, 1992, a petition with the director requesting that the person be given an opportunity to rebut the presumption that the person has abandoned the claim. Upon the filing of such a petition, the director may schedule a hearing to take testimony and evidence on the date the water was applied to beneficial use or the director may accept sworn statements in writing in support of such petition. The director shall not deny a petition without first holding a contested case hearing. If it appears after hearing or from such sworn statements that the person has a use of water that would be subject to registration under this chapter, the director shall issue an order authorizing the person to file a registration statement as described under subsection (1) of this section. A person who files a petition under this subsection shall submit with the petition a fee, the amount of which shall be one and one-half times the amount the person would have submitted under ORS 539.081 (Fees) with a timely registration statement.

(5) The director shall accept for filing all registration statements described in subsections (1) and (4) of this section made in proper form when the statements are accompanied by the fees prescribed in ORS 539.081 (Fees). The director shall indorse the date of receipt on each registration statement.

(6) The director shall examine each registration statement to insure that the statement is complete and in proper form. If the director determines the information required under subsection (2) of this section is complete and in proper form, the director shall:

(a) Enter the indorsed statement in the record of the department;

(b) Mail a copy of the indorsed statement to the person filing the registration statement; and

(c) Include the person or the properly designated assignee of the person in any further proceeding to adjudicate the water rights represented by the indorsed registration statement.

(7) Upon entry of the indorsed statement in the departments records, the registrant is entitled to continue to appropriate the surface water and apply it to beneficial use to the extent and in the manner disclosed in the recorded registration statement. However, the registrant shall not be entitled to the benefits of an existing water right of record under ORS 540.045 (Watermaster duties).

(8) No registration statement recorded under this section shall be construed as a final determination of any matter stated therein, nor shall the act of indorsement by the director constitute a determination of the validity of the matters contained in the registration statement. The right of the registrant to appropriate surface water under a recorded registration statement is subject to determination under ORS 539.010 (Protection of water rights vested or initiated prior to February 24, 1909) to 539.240 (Claim to undetermined right to appropriate surface water), and is not final or conclusive until so determined. A right to appropriate surface water under a recorded registration statement has a tentative priority from the date claimed in the indorsed registration statement.

(9) Any indorsed registration statement may be assigned, subject to the conditions in the registration statement, but no such assignment will be binding, except upon the parties to the assignment, unless filed with the department.

(10) Notwithstanding the filing deadline prescribed under subsection (1) of this section, and the late filing period allowed under subsection (4) of this section, if any person submitted, before December 31, 1994, a registration statement or other similar documentation claiming a right to appropriate surface water under ORS 539.010 (Protection of water rights vested or initiated prior to February 24, 1909), the director shall examine the material submitted to determine if the documents filed would substantially comply with the requirements of subsection (2) of this section. If the director determines that the documents substantially comply with the surface water registration filing requirements of subsection (2) of this section, the director may accept the registration. If the director determines that the documents filed under this subsection are incomplete or if additional information is required to comply with subsection (2) of this section, or fees required under ORS 539.081 (Fees) have not been submitted, the director shall notify the claimant of the deficiency, setting a date certain for submittal of the information or fees. The time for submittal of additional information or fees shall be not less than 30 days nor more than 180 days after the director notifies the claimant of the deficiency. If the additional information or fees are not submitted on or before the date certain, the registration statement shall be considered void and shall be returned to the claimant.

(11) The director shall adopt by rule a process and standards for recognizing changes in the place of use, type of use or point of diversion of water uses registered pursuant to this section. [1987 c.541 §5; 1989 c.691 §14; 1993 c.157 §4; 1995 c.365 §7; 1999 c.860 §1]