Water Rights

Book Review

The Appraisal of Water Rights

by Steven J. Herzog, MAI
With Eunice H. Park

Soft Cover • 106 Pages •  $45.00

Publication Date: 2012
Appraisal Institute
200 W Madison, St
Chicago, Il 60606

phone: 312 355-4400

The first 16 pages of
The Appraisal of Water Rights are an illustrated guide to the complex water rights situation in California, with maps and pictures of its vast water collection and distribution systems. While interesting, it has little to do with water rights appraising in the rest of the USA.

Next is a primer on “The Nature of Water Rights.” It cautions that, “It would be presumptuous and dangerous for the appraiser to think that the rules for one state could be applied to another without first performing extensive research.” However, no guidance is offered as to how to go about doing this research.

Seven types of water rights are described: Prescriptive rights, Pueblo rights, Groundwater rights, Riparian rights, Appropriative rights, Contractual entitlements, and Federal Reserve. This provides good introductory information about each of these types of rights.

Chapter 2 starts with the quotation: “You can transfer water if it is your water and not somebody else’s water, provided the transfer does not injure another water right holder or unreasonably affect instream beneficial use.” The chapter then goes on to explain the basics of transferring water.

It is important to understand that this book does not address how value is affected when a property abuts or is near water. In many markets, this is considered an amenity that may substantially add to the value of the property. However, this book is focused on how to buy, sell and transfer water rights.

What this book does is let the reader understand the complexities of water right transfer and valuation. However, the only way I can conceive that most appraisers could take such an assignment is to associate themselves with another appraiser well experienced doing this type of work.