July 1 Deadline Looms for Water Users to Report Diversions to State

June 24, 2010

Statements of Diversion and Use

Water users exercising riparian rights and pre-1914 appropriative rights risk penalties if they fail to report their stream diversions to the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) by July 1. The 2009 omnibus water legislation requires the filing of a Statement of Water Diversion and Use (“Statement”) for diverted surface water or water pumped from a known subterranean stream. The initial Statement must be filed for each separate point of diversion, using a form available from the State Board. Submitted forms must report the amount of water used in 2009 from each diversion.

The State Board’s form may be downloaded at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/diversion_use/docs/st_assignment_form.pdf

Not all water diversions must be reported. Initial Statements are not required where:

  • the diversion is from a spring that does not flow off the property and does not exceed 25 acre-feet per year (“afy”);
  • the diversion is covered by water right permit or license already on file with the State Board (Reports are already required for these diversions); or
  • the diversion is regulated by a Department of Water Resources (“DWR”) watermaster, or a watermaster appointed by a court and such diversion is reported to the State Board;

If diversions occurred before July 1, 2009, an initial Statement is not required where:

  • DWR reports the diversion to the State Board;
  • the diversion is reported in consumptive use data for the Delta low lands;
  • the diversion is covered by an appropriative water right application that has been filed at the State Board.

For a complete list of exemptions/exceptions, review the 2009 law at: SBX7-8: Water diversion and use reporting ("SB 8") (PDF 232KB).

After an initial Statement is filed for a particular diversion, Supplemental Statements must be filed every three years thereafter, prior to July 1 of that year.

Penalties

The State Board has the discretion to seek civil liability (penalties) for the failure to file a Statement for each diversion that occurred after January 1, 2009. The State Board can seek penalties of up to $1000 for the initial failure, plus $500 per day for each additional day the violation continues. The penalties begin to accrue if the Statement is not filed within 30 days after the State Board calls “the violation to the attention” of the person required to file the Statement. The State Board intends to use the Statements to build a central repository for diversions and water use that will assist the State Board in administering state’s water rights system.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the following from our office, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

Eric Robinson or Danielle Teeters | 916.321.4500