Water Shares and Rights

water rights in arizona

Water rights are agreements dating to previous landowners and are passed with the transfer of a business or deed.  It is important to have an experienced attorney review the well share rights for any business or property that you are going to purchase.

how to purchase water rights in arizona

what are water shares

Water shares are purchased from companies with ownership in water shares.

how to purchase water shares in arizona

The Dunaway Law Group has experience with water rights law, water supply law, groundwater use, water-use compliance issues and more.  Our firm can assist with planning and due diligence for a potential project or defending against any potentially damaging new restrictions.

the COST OF A WATER in arizona

There is no set price for a unit of water and the price can vary wildly. Due in large part to its location.

We tend to think of water as a public resource, free from the vagaries of market forces, more than 90 percent of Americans get their water from publicly controlled systems.

Throughout the Southwest, it’s become increasingly common for water to be bought and sold at auctions in multi-million-dollar deals. Market consultants predict we’ll see even more water privatization in the future. National water development and investment companies are quietly capitalizing on liquid cash.

Water is becoming more valuable as it becomes scarcer, and it is becoming scarcer at an alarming rate. The Southwest’s population boom, coupled with a mega drought and climate change, will lead to a water deficiency on the Colorado River of more than 1 trillion gallons annually by 2060. The cost of water will exponentially increase.

Water is measured in acre-feet (AF): one acre across, one foot deep. It’s 325,851 gallons – the average amount of water used every year by a family of five.

What is the value of water?

Water’s value is fluid. It depends on where the water is, how big the supply, how urgent the demand, and lots more – including who owns it.

A major part of Vidler’s business model, though, just involves buying and selling water. For example, two golf clubs in Scottsdale – Desert Mountain and Golf Club Scottsdale – will pay Vidler almost $10 million to deliver water. The city now waters the clubs’ seven courses but requires them to have a backup supply. The golf courses will get 1,650 AF. Scottsdale wanted a fee for the transaction but instead decided to take it out in trade, to the tune of 1,260 AF.

Water-resource consultant, Timothy Bray, of Southwest Community Resources. “I act like a real-estate broker. I will enter into an agreement with one side or the other to do this work, and so I get paid by one side or the other just like any broker would get paid.”

arizona municipal water users association

Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA), which represents Phoenix, Scottsdale, and eight other municipalities. Each city has to demonstrate it has enough water to meet the needs of its customers for 100 years. It is clear that water is going to become much more valuable over time. The only question is how quickly, and the price of water will increase.

Contact water lawyer Clint Dunaway at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

*These blog posts are not intended, nor shall they be deemed to be the rendering of legal advice. Reading these blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the attorney to respond to further inquiry. Dunaway Law Group limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Utah Water Rights & Water Shares


Water rights are owned by the water user and so they don’t need to pay for any assessments, they own water and can use it for what it’s been approved for.

Water rights can have different amounts of rights to the water. For instance, one water right might give you one share per acre. Whereas, another water right may give you two acre feet. For example, one foot is one foot and one pound is one pound, however, one water right is not worth a set amount of water. For one person the water right might give them the right for two acre feet and for another person the water right night give them three acre feet.

As such, when buying water rights the first thing to do is determine how water is assigned to a particular water right. 


There are two ways a person can buy Water Rights in Utah. 

First, is to buy it from the State of Utah. You have to figure out how much water you need. How can you ask for water right? How is the beneficial use of water determined? 

Second, you can buy Water Rights from an individual who currently owns the Water Rights. 

Under title 73 of Utah Code Water rights in the state of Utah considered real property created they entitle the owner to use divert and beneficial use water within the limits of the water right they are appurtenant to the land, they are attached to the land and the ownership transfers with the land, unless severed.

UT Code 73-1-10 Conveyance of water rights by Deed — (1) (a) A water right, whether evidenced by a decree, a certificate of appropriation, a diligence claim to the use of surface or underground water, or a water user’s claim filed in general determination proceedings, shall be transferred by deed in substantially the same manner as is real estate. (b) The deed must be recorded in the office of the recorder of the county where the point of diversion of the water is located and in the county where the water is used.

(3) (a) To update water right ownership on the records of the state engineer, a water right owner shall submit a report of water right conveyance to the state engineer. (b) The report of water right conveyance shall be on forms provided by the state engineer. (c) The report shall be prepared by: (i) or prepared under the direction of and certified by, any of the following persons licensed in Utah: (A) an attorney; (B) a professional engineer; (C) a title insurance producer; or (D) a professional land surveyor.

Separating the Water Right From the Land

As noted, water rights run-with-the-land unless, however, there is a process in which you can separate the water rights from the land. In order to do this, it must be explicitly stated in a deed. 

With the county recorder for a perfected water right. For instance, say I put a little house there just to show that when you say the water department you mean that if you sell your land typically the water transfers with it the water right water right will typically transfer with the land unless you explicitly reserved it in a deed when you convey the property pretty easy way to tell if you have a water a person water share if you have a water share you typically paid assessment yellow water right it’s you just own it and even though it’s considered real property.


Water rights are owned by the water user and so they don’t need to pay for any assessments. 





Water Shares are a different type of water ownership, which is not direct ownership of a water right from the state but involves water that has been appropriated by the state to a corporation, not an individual.

When an entity, such as a city/town, ditch company, irrigation company, canal company etc., is given water rights by the state, that entity will typically have a president, water board, and other leadership positions to manage the entity.

A specific number of acre-feet of water is assigned to each share and the shares of water are held by individual shareholders who typically pay a monthly or yearly assessment.

The entity takes care of specific physical parts of the water distribution system, management of the system, hires a watermaster, specifies the responsibility of the shareholders, and directs the distribution (use) of the water. The ‘use’ of the water is typically referred to as water turns and will specify the amount of water a shareholder may use and for what duration. This control should help in times of drought to keep water usage as fair as possible.

What to verify when buying a property with water shares:

  • What company or entity are the shares part of.
  • How many acre-feet of water are included per share.
  • Verify with the entity that the seller owns the number of water shares claimed and if there is an outstanding assessment due.
  • What is the geographic location of the entity
  • May water shares be transferred for subsurface diversion (a well)
  • The market value of the water shares.


A company owns the water rights and they sell shares, basically you can think of it as they they rent out that water their shareholders you can assessment for the ability to use that company’s water rides and then if you if you own a share in a company you can file a change application to move it outside of what the Company’s base rights are for 4 and that’s the the process we just described set this point IDs these questions for for what they’re worth as your starting position if you were at that point are there 

In Utah, water shares are owned by companies.

Water Shares and Land Transfers

I sell my property that water share is not attached there background so it doesn’t transfer by pertinence if I wanted to sell my property and conclude that water share in that sale I can sell that share to the new owner they would go to the company to company would re-issue a share of stock in their name that’s how ownership in a company keeps records of that ownership shares so like I said a water right assessment to use that water will be home.

Water shares a company owns the water rights and then they sell shares basically you can think of it as they rent out that water to their shareholders you can assessments for the ability to use that company’s water rides and then if you if you own a share in a company, you can file a change application to move it outside of what the Company’s base rights are approved for.

If you need help from an experienced shared well attorney, then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.

Water Organizations

arizona water associations

utah water associations

national water associations

international water organizations

water investment companies

  • Aqua Capital Management- Omaha-based, has handled more than 500 water-rights transactions across the country.
  • Greenstone, hedge fund
  • Summit Global Management
  • Vidler Water Company
  • Water Asset Management

In Arizona, an investor can speculate on water can try their hand in a few ways. They can buy land with rights to water, either ground or surface. Or they can purchase what’s called “paper water”— tradable credits for water artificially stored underground. They can also buy water, store it, and create those credits themselves.

Build a storage facility on the land it purchased. The structure would transfer water to an aquifer, either by letting it sink through layers of silt, sand, clay, and gravel or by using a new technology, vadose zone wells, to inject it.