On or after January 1, 2023, the state engineer or the state engineer's designee (state engineer) may investigate complaints of investment water speculation. If a purchaser holds, or by virtue of a proposed sale or transfer, will hold at least a minimum percent of the shares in a mutual ditch company, about which minimum percent the mutual ditch company must determine and notify the state engineer on or before December 31, 2022, there is a rebuttable presumption that the purchaser is engaged in investment water speculation. The state engineer may fine a purchaser up to $10,000 for a violation and require, for a period of up to 2 years after a fine has been imposed, that any sale or transfer of shares in a mutual ditch company to the purchaser be subject to approval by the state engineer.
If the state engineer believes that a complaint is frivolous or was filed for the purpose of harassing a seller or purchaser, the state engineer may refer the matter to the attorney general's office for the attorney general or the attorney general's designee (attorney general) to investigate and, if the attorney general determines that enforcement is warranted, bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction alleging the complaint is frivolous or was filed for the purpose of harassment. If the attorney general prevails in the civil action, the court may fine a complainant up to $1,000, prohibit the complainant from filing any complaints alleging investment water speculation for up to one year, and grant attorney fees and court costs. Section 3 authorizes the attorney general to bring a civil action against a complainant if the state engineer refers the matter to the attorney general.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)