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3 cities sue user group in water-transfer rift

A dispute over water has resulted in three south Utah County cities agreeing to take the Strawberry Water Users Association to court.

The issue over ownership came to a head recently when the Strawberry Water Users Association offered to buy the water rights from the owners of new homes in Spanish Fork, Salem and Payson and also sent out assessment notices.Spanish Fork City Attorney Jr. Baker said the association believes each property owner owns the water under his house because water goes with the land. The city, however, believes subdivision developers transferred that water to the city when they built the homes.

The Strawberry Water Users Association won't recognize the transfer, Baker said. If residents take the association up on its offer to buy the water rights, that could further cloud the ownership issue, he said.

The City Council on Tuesday authorized court action, joining with Salem and Payson. The matter will go to 4th District Court in Provo.