KITTITAS RECLAMATION DISTRICT POLICY ON IRRIGATION EASEMENTS

This letter is intended to explain the Kittitas Reclamation District's (KRD) position with respect to disputes between landowners which arise from one landowner transporting their irrigation water across another landowner's property.

The KRD is obligated to deliver irrigation water to certain points within each quarter section. Once the irrigation water leaves that point it is the responsibility of the landowner ordering KRD water to transport the water to their property. The KRD is not responsible for the water reaching the KRD landowners' property once the water leaves the KRD ditch or lateral. This includes situations when third parties have interfered with the water reaching the KRD landowner's property. In these situations the KRD will not become involved in issues arising between landowners. If a third party has interfered with your water, KRD suggests you consult with an attorney to help you determine if you have the legal right to transport your water across another landowner's property. This right to use another's property is sometimes referred to as an easement. Easements are property rights.

The property on which the easement is located is the "burdened" property and the property which is supplied with the irrigation water by the pipe or ditch located on the easement is the "benefited" property. Easements may be established by written document(s) or by historical usage over time (10 years). Once an easement has been established its location can only be changed through agreement of both the burdened and benefited property(s). Even if the pipe or ditch serves both the benefited or burdened property and the easement therefore serves both the burdened property and the benefited property, these rules remain the same.

The burdened property owner may continue to use their property on which the easement is located so long as the use by the owner of the burdened property does not interfere with the purpose for which the easement was established, i.e. the transportation of irrigation water. Such established easements typically carry with them the right of ingress (entry) for maintenance purposes.

Additionally, mere non-use of the easement by the benefited property over time does not automatically result in an abandonment of the easement by the benefited property. Abandonment is the intentional relinquishment of the easement right. Since there is no relinquishment of the KRD water by an assessed user by non-use the only way for there to be a relinquishment of the easement right would be a written statement of abandonment, or the establishment of alternative routes to transport the water coupled with a statement of intent to abandon, or proper steps taken by the benefited property to exclude the irrigable acreage from the District, or by such similar steps to conclusively show the intent to abandon.

This letter is not intended to be legal advice. The KRD encourages you, if you have questions or if your transportation of irrigation water over a third parties land has been interfered with, to consult with an attorney of your choosing.

 

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