The Governor Signs Into Law Sweeping Revamp of California Water Management

November 5, 2009 | Bulletin No. 927245.1

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed into law a sweeping package of legislation that seeks to improve water supply reliability throughout California.

With the lawmaking process completed, attention now turns to carrying out the sweeping package. By January 1, 2012, a new Delta Stewardship Council must adopt a Delta Plan to accomplish ecosystem restoration and water delivery reliability for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of the world's most productive farm land. The Delta will see new instream flow criteria and a new Delta Watermaster.

The legislation supports development of new water storage and conveyance facilities, sets urban water conservation mandates and requires more efficient agricultural water use, provides for monitoring and reporting of groundwater conditions, and will step up enforcement of water use reporting by riparian and pre-1914 water rights holders.

In connection with the new mandates, an $11.14 billion bond measure would help pay for water management and ecosystem restoration projects from Siskiyou County to San Diego. The bond measure, titled the "Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010," will go before voters in the November 2010 statewide election.

The new laws seem to affect all public water suppliers in California, imposing new compliance obligations while providing new opportunities to carry out projects that will improve aging storage, conveyance and distribution infrastructure. This Legal Alert summarizes the major provisions of the new laws, originate from the following separate bills:

Delta Stewardship Council to Restore Delta Water Reliability (SB 1)

SB 1 enacts the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Reform Act (“Act”) (Water Code § 85000 et seq.), which declares that “existing Delta policies are not sustainable” and “[r]esolving the crisis requires a fundamental reorganization of the state’s management of Delta watershed resources.” The legislation describes coequal goals “of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem” and explains that the Act’s purpose is to “establish a governance structure that will direct efforts across state agencies to develop a legally enforceable Delta Plan.”

That governance structure will be the Delta Stewardship Council (“Council”), a seven-member body appointed by the governor and Legislature that will be the successor to CALFED. The Council will administer all existing contracts and agreements previously administered by CALFED. All staff, resources, and funding for the support of the CALFED program will be transferred to the Council.

By January 1, 2012, the Council will be required to develop, adopt and start carrying out a comprehensive long-term management plan for the Delta (“Delta Plan”). The Delta Plan will include measures that promote: (1) viable populations of aquatic and terrestrial species; (2) functional corridors for migratory species; (3) diverse habitats; (4) reduced threats; (5) more reliable water supplies; (6) improved water quality; and (7) the economic vitality of the State. It also will have to include recommendations promoting statewide water conservation, options for new and improved infrastructure relating to water conveyance in the Delta, and in-Delta disaster and risk reduction considerations.

The Council will review and comment on the consistency of local and regional transportation planning documents with the Delta Plan. The Act provides that state or local agencies undertaking certain “covered actions” will have to prepare “detailed findings as to whether the covered action is consistent with the Delta Plan and shall submit that certification to the council.”

“Covered action” includes a plan, program, or project as defined in the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) that will: (1) be in the Delta or Suisun Marsh; (2) be carried out, approved, or funded by a state or local agency; (3) be covered by one or more provisions of the Delta Plan; and (4) cause a significant impact on achievement of water supply reliability, ecosystem restoration, or flood protection in the Delta.

Excluded from covered actions will be: (1) regulatory actions by state agencies; (2) routine maintenance of the State Water Project (“SWP”) and Central Valley Project (“CVP”); (3) certain regional transportation plans; (4) certain activities in the secondary zone of the Delta that are consistent with specific regional transportation plans; (5) routine maintenance of public facilities located in the Delta; and (6) activities undertaken in the Delta by a local public agency that is located in whole or in part in the Delta.

SWRCB to Appoint Delta Watermaster and Council to Appoint Delta Independent Science Board

Under the Act, the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) will consult with the Council in appointing a Delta Watermaster. The Delta Watermaster will have jurisdiction over water diversions in the Delta and will exercise the SWRCB’s authority to provide timely monitoring and enforcement of SWRCB orders and water right permit terms.

The Act directs the Delta Stewardship Council to appoint a Delta Independent Science Board (“Science Board”). The Science Board mission will be to “provide the best possible unbiased scientific information to inform water and environmental decisionmaking in the Delta.” The Science Board will oversee implementation of the Delta Science Program, which “shall function as a replacement for, and successor to, the CALFED Science Program.”

SWRCB to Adopt Delta Instream Flow Criteria

Within 12 months after enactment, the Act calls for the Department of Fish and Game (“DFG”) to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service in developing and recommending to the SWRCB flow criteria and quantifiable biological objectives for species of concern dependent on the Delta.

The Act directs the SWRCB to establish an effective system of Delta watershed diversion data collection and public reporting by December 31, 2010. Further, the SWRCB will be required to use a public process to develop “new flow criteria for the Delta ecosystem necessary to protect public trust resources.” The flow criteria will need to “include the volume, quality, and timing of water necessary for the Delta ecosystem under different conditions.”

Bay Delta Conservation Plan Directives

The Act prohibits the commencement of construction of a new Delta conveyance facility until the SWRCB approves a change in the point of diversion for the SWP and CVP water rights. It requires the water agencies receiving SWP and CVP water to pay for the review, planning, design, construction and mitigation required for any new Delta conveyance facility.

The Act provides that the pending Bay Delta Conservation Plan (“BDCP”) must become part of the Delta Plan—if DFG approves the BDCP as a natural community conservation plan and determines that it meets certain Act requirements (e.g., considers a reasonable range of flow criteria and conveyance alternatives, and analyzes the effects of climate change including a sea level rise of up to 55 inches), and if the BDCP is approved as a habitat conservation plan under section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

New Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy

SB 1 also includes the new Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy Act (“Conservancy Act”) (Public Resources Code § 32300 et seq.). The Conservancy Act establishes the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy to support the complementary advancement of environmental protection and the economic well-being of Delta residents.

The Conservancy will act as the primary state agency to implement ecosystem restoration in the Delta. The Conservancy’s board will consist of 11 voting members and two non-voting members. Up to 10 liaison advisors from various state and federal agencies could serve in a non-voting capacity. The Conservancy could enter into agreements and conservation easements, fund restoration efforts, among other activities, and seek diverse funding sources. Within two years of appointing an executive director, the board of the Conservancy will need to adopt a strategic plan establishing criteria and priorities for projects and programs to achieve its goals.

Amendments to Delta Protection Act of 1992

SB 1 amends the Delta Protection Act of 1992 (Public Resources Code § 29700 et seq.). Most significantly here, the amendments change the size and composition of the Delta Protection Commission.

The amendments remove the directors of Parks and Recreation, Boating and Waterways, Water Resources, a CALFED public member, and three gubernatorial appointees from the general public, and add the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency and Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing.

By July 1, 2011, the Delta Protection Commission must adopt an economic sustainability plan regarding flood protection, socioeconomic sustainability of Delta agriculture and infrastructure, and recreation. Also, by July 1, 2010, the Commission must submit recommendations to the Legislature regarding expansion or changes to the boundaries of the Delta primary zone or the Delta.

$11 Billion Water Bond (SB 2)

Under SB 2, voters will be asked to approve $11.14 billion in bonds at the November 2, 2010, statewide general election. The bond measure is titled the “Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010” and will consist of two separate “tranches,” with half the bonds issued for immediate sale after voter approval and the other half sold no earlier than July 1, 2015.

That total bond amount includes $455 million for drought relief, $1.4 billion for regional water supply projects, $2.25 billion for Delta sustainability projects (including $1.5 billion for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan), $3 billion for water storage, $1.785 billion for watershed conservation, $1 billion for groundwater cleanup and protection, and $1.25 billion for water recycling and water conservation.

A committee comprised of the Director of Finance, the State Treasurer, the State Controller, the Director of Water Resources and the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency will control issuance of bonds under the State General Obligation Bond Law, if the $11.14 billion measure is approved by voters. The committee could issue up to $5.57 billion in bonds before July 1, 2015. Bond sale proceeds will be deposited into a new state fund from which the Legislature would make appropriations.

Those appropriations will be made to DWR and other state agencies, which will allocate funding to specific projects. Under the bond measure, much of the funding will be allocated by DWR in response to applications by project proponents. Bond funding also will be allocated by the Natural Resources Agency, the Department of Fish and Game, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Conservation Corps, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and state conservancies. Eligible applicants include public agencies, nonprofit organizations, public utilities and mutual water companies.

While the bond measure would authorize funding for a wide range of projects—including new reservoirs and groundwater storage, new water conveyance facilities, urban and agricultural water conservation measures, wastewater recycling infrastructure and ecosystem restoration—the measure also imposes certain broad limits on the use of bond funds.
For example, the measure provides that bond funds “shall not be expended to support or pay for the costs of environmental mitigation measures or compliance obligations of any party except as part of the environmental mitigation costs of projects financed by this division . . . ,” which do not include Delta conveyance facilities. The bond measure expressly provides that bond funds shall not finance “the costs of the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of Delta conveyance facilities.” Such costs would instead “be the responsibility of the water agencies that benefit from the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of those facilities.”

Drought Relief

Projects eligible for the measure’s $455 million in drought relief funding would include “planning, design, and construction of local and regional drought relief projects that reduce the impacts of drought conditions, including, but not limited to, the impacts of reductions in Delta diversions.” That includes water conservation and efficiency projects (e.g., installation of “the most water efficient fixtures commercially available”), water recycling and related infrastructure, groundwater cleanup, local and regional conveyance projects that improve water supplies, local and regional water supply reliability projects, and local and regional surface water storage projects that provide emergency water supplies and water supply reliability in drought conditions.

No more than 10 percent of a project’s grant funding could be spent on project planning, investigations, studies and monitoring. At least half the total project costs would have to be paid from nonstate sources, unless the project would “directly benefit disadvantaged communities or economically distressed areas.” The preceding cost-share obligation and disadvantaged-community exception apply beyond drought relief to many projects eligible for funding under the new measure generally.

Regional Water Supply

Under the bond measure, $1.050 billion in funding would be awarded by DWR through competitive grants to projects that carry out Integrated Regional Water Management Plans (“IRWMPs”). Such projects include “local and regional surface water storage projects.”

To qualify, a grant applicant would need to timely submit its Urban Water Management Plan (“UWMP”). Under the Urban Water Management Planning Act, (Water Code § 10610 et seq.), approved UWMP updates must be submitted to DWR on or by December 31, 2010.

Bond funding would be divided among 12 hydrologic regions and subregions, in addition to an “interregional” allocation. The Los Angeles subregion garnered a $198 million allocation, followed closely by the San Francisco Bay region’s $132 million and the Santa Ana subregion’s $128 million and then by the San Diego subregion’s $87 million, the Sacramento River region’s $76 million, the Tulare/Kern region’s $70 million and further allocations to: San Joaquin River ($64 million), Central Coast ($58 million), North/South Lahontan ($51 million), Colorado River Basin ($47 million), North Coast ($45 million), a Mountain Counties “overlay” ($44 million), and “interregional” ($50 million).

The bond measure would provide an additional $350 million for DWR to allocate for grants and direct expenditures “for the planning, design, and construction of local and regional conveyance projects that support regional and interregional connectivity and water management.” Such projects would need to provide one or more of the following benefits: (1) improved regional or interregional water supply and supply reliability; (2) mitigation of groundwater overdraft, saline water intrusion, water quality degradation or subsidence; (3) adaptation to “impacts of hydrologic changes”; (4) “improved water security” from drought, natural disasters or other events that could interrupt imported water supplies; and (5) “providing safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities and economically distressed areas.”

Delta Sustainability

The bond measure would provide $2.250 billion for grants and direct expenditures for “projects needed to assist in the Delta’s sustainability as a vital resource for fish, wildlife, water quality, water supply, agriculture, and recreation.”

Of that amount, $750 million is slated for projects “that provide public benefits and support Delta sustainability options, including projects and supporting scientific studies and assessments” that: (1) Ensure that urban and agricultural water supplies derived from the Delta are not disrupted due to catastrophic levee failures; (2) Assist in preserving agricultural and other economic activities “in the Delta”; (3) Improve the quality of drinking water derived from the Delta; (4) Improve levee and flood control facilities to protect Delta communities; (5) Provide physical improvements or other actions to create water flow and water quality conditions within the Delta to provide adequate habitat for native fish and wildlife; (6) Facilitate other projects that provide public benefits and support Delta sustainability options approved by the Legislature; (7) Mitigate other impacts of water conveyance and ecosystem restoration; and (8) Provide or improve water quality facilities and other infrastructure.

At least $50 million of the $2.250 billion would be available for matching grants “for improvements to wastewater treatment facilities upstream of the Delta to improve Delta water quality.”

Of the $2.250 billion amount, $1.5 billion would be “for projects to protect and enhance the sustainability of the Delta ecosystem, including “[p]rojects for the development and implementation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan . . . .” Such funding could be used for “preparation of environmental documentation and environmental compliance.”

Water Storage

Under the bond measure, $3 billion would be allocated as a continuous appropriation to the California Water Commission (“Commission”) “for public benefits associated with water storage projects that improve the operation of the state water system, are cost effective, and provide a net improvement in ecosystem and water quality conditions . . . .” This continuous appropriation means that expenditures from these bond funds can be made in any future fiscal year without being subject to appropriation or transfer by the Legislature or the Governor during any budget process.

The Commission would select such water storage projects through a competitive public process informed by regulations that DWR would develop in consultation with the Department of Fish and Game and the State Water Resources Control Board. Only the following projects would be initially eligible for funding: (1) Surface storage projects identified in the CALFED Bay-Delta Record of Decision; (2) Groundwater storage projects and groundwater contamination prevention or remediation projects that provide storage benefits; (3) Conjunctive use and reservoir reoperation projects; and (4) Local and regional surface storage projects that improve the operation of water systems in the state and provide public benefits.

Further, funding would be provided only for projects that provide “measurable improvements to the Delta ecosystem or to the tributaries to the Delta.” Finally, funding would be “expended solely for the following public benefits associated with water storage projects:” (1) Ecosystem improvements; (2) water quality improvements; (3) flood control benefits; (4) emergency response; and (5) recreational purposes. The preceding bond funding could not be used for “costs of environmental mitigation measures or compliance obligations except for those associated with providing the [preceding five] public benefits.”

Conservation and Watershed Protection

The bond measure would provide $1.785 billion for grants and expenditures on ecosystem and watershed restoration and protection projects.

Those grant funds would be provided to the Natural Resources Agency, Department of Fish and Game, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Conservation Corps, the Department of Conservation, the Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection or to state conservancies for direct expenditures or grants.

The bond measure imposes a range of detailed requirements for use of the funds, including requirements that vary by specific county and watershed.

Groundwater Protection

One billion dollars would be provided for projects to prevent or reduce the contamination of groundwater that serves as a source of drinking water. Such projects would have to be consistent with an adopted IRWMP. The Department of Public Health would allocate the funding for projects that prevent or reduce contamination of groundwater “that serves as a major source of drinking water for a community.”

Water Recycling and Conservation

The bond measure would provide $1.25 billion for recycled water projects and water conservation projects in urban and agricultural settings.

Of the preceding amount, $1 billion would be available for the following types of projects: (1) Recycled water projects; (2) Contaminant and salt removal projects (including groundwater and seawater desalination); (3) Dedicated recycled water distribution infrastructure, including retrofit projects for commercial and industrial end users; and (4) Pilot projects for new salt or contaminant removal technology and groundwater recharge infrastructure related to recycled water.

$250 million would be available for direct expenditures, grants and loans to water conservation and water use efficiency plans, projects and programs. Urban water conservation plans, projects and programs and agricultural water management plans are eligible for funding. DWR would award grants or loans through a competitive process.

Groundwater Monitoring (SB 6)

Under SB 6, systematic monitoring of groundwater levels in all basins and subbasins of the state is to be collected and made readily available to the public.

The monitoring will begin by January 1, 2012, and will document seasonal and long-term trends in groundwater elevations. The legislation states that the new monitoring requirements will apply only in groundwater "basins" or "subbasins," as defined by DWR in Bulletin 118. Reports describing the status of the state's groundwater basins and subbasins will be made to the governor and Legislature no later than January 1, 2012, and thereafter in years ending in five or zero.

Although the idea of centralized state groundwater regulation elicited substantial concern during the legislative process, the monitoring and reporting requirements ultimately passed by the Legislature are quite limited. The legislation will encourage—but not mandate—a variety of local entities to assume responsibility for monitoring and reporting of groundwater elevations.

If sufficient monitoring information were not collected, then DWR could monitor groundwater elevations—but only upon obtaining the concurrence of the State Mining and Geology Board. Further, the legislation provides no funding to support groundwater monitoring by DWR. In the event that DWR were to perform such monitoring, then local groundwater management entities that failed to assume monitoring responsibility may not be eligible for water grants or loans awarded or administered by the state.

Notably, neither DWR nor any local monitoring entity is authorized to enter private property without the landowner's consent in order to collect groundwater data. In addition, neither DWR nor any local monitoring entity can require a property owner to submit monitoring information. No fees or charges can be assessed on landowners to pay for the monitoring program.

Those local entities that seek to assume the groundwater monitoring functions will have to notify DWR in writing on or before January 1, 2011, of their intention to do so. Such entities will need to document their qualifications and submit a map showing the area to be monitored.

DWR will oversee the monitoring entities, including determining the priority of potential monitoring entities if more than one sought to conduct the monitoring in a single area. After completing its review, DWR would provide written notice to the monitoring entity, publicize its selection on the internet, and work cooperatively with that entity to determine how groundwater elevations should be reported. DWR could recommend improvements to existing groundwater monitoring programs, but could not require additional monitoring wells unless funding were provided for such wells. Where existing programs are already sufficient to demonstrate seasonal and long-term groundwater elevation trends, DWR will have to defer to those existing programs.

If no local entity sought to assume monitoring responsibility, DWR would contact well owners to assess interest in establishing a groundwater management plan, an integrated regional water management plan that includes a groundwater management component, or a voluntary groundwater monitoring association. If there were sufficient interest, or if the overlying county were willing to provide the monitoring, then DWR would work cooperatively with the interested parties to institute monitoring within two years.

In the absence of local interest, DWR will first determine if existing monitoring wells owned or operated by state or federal agencies provide sufficient information on groundwater elevation trends. If not, then DWR could undertake groundwater monitoring functions. DWR would notify well owners in the affected area and the overlying county. Although DWR would not assess fees or charges to recover monitoring costs, entities in the area that DWR monitors may not be eligible for water grants or loans awarded or administered by the state (with an exception if the area qualifies as a disadvantaged community).

The legislation does not affect DWR's current monitoring network, and will not expand or affect DWR's powers and duties relating to groundwater.

Urban and Agricultural Water Conservation (SB 7)

Under SB 7, urban water suppliers have until 2020 to cut per capita urban water use by 20 percent statewide, and agricultural water suppliers will have until 2010 to adopt water management plans and carry out certain efficient water management practices.

Water Conservation Goals

SB 7 requires the state to reduce urban per capita water use by 20 percent no later than December 31, 2020, and by at least 10 percent no later than December 31, 2015.

The law provides urban per capita water use calculations to be based on all water entering a water supplier’s distribution system, excluding recycled water, water placed into long-term storage, water conveyed for use by another supplier, and water delivered for agricultural use. The water use reductions will be measured against baseline water use over a 10- or 15-year period ending no earlier than December 31, 2004, and no later than December 31, 2010, with the exact length of the baseline period depending on the circumstances of each particular water supplier. The law provides that it may be possible to achieve the per capita water use reductions while maintaining or even increasing overall water use, depending on changes in climate within each supplier’s service area.

Urban Retail Water Suppliers

The law requires urban retail water suppliers, which include all public or private entities that directly serve potable municipal water to more than 3,000 end users or that serve more than 3,000 acre-feet of potable water each year, to develop urban water use targets to help achieve the water use reduction goals. While the law does not require individual urban retail water suppliers to reduce per capita water usage by more than 20 percent, each supplier will have to reduce per capita daily water use by at least 5 percent, unless water use already is 100 gallons per capita per day or less. Urban retail water suppliers will have to meet their own urban water use targets, which they will establish after noticed public hearings.

Urban retail water suppliers could base the urban water use targets on one of four methods, such as a strict 20 percent reduction in baseline water use, compliance with established performance standards, or a 5 percent reduction from the applicable state hydrologic region target set in the state’s draft 20 x 2020 Water Conservation Plan dated April 30, 2009. DWR must develop a fourth method for calculating urban water use targets by December 31, 2010.

Urban retail water suppliers must include specific new information in the next round of Urban Water Management Plans, including a description of the baseline daily per capita water use, the urban water use target, the interim water use target, and the most recent daily per capita water use estimates, along with a description of the bases for these estimates. DWR must develop technical methods and criteria for calculating base daily per capita water use, baseline commercial, industrial, and institutional water use, and other metrics, by no later than October 1, 2010. Urban retail water suppliers must use DWR’s methods, once they are developed. Although the next Urban Water Management Plan updates are due by December 31, 2010, SB 7 grants urban retail water suppliers an extension to July 1, 2011, to allow use of DWR’s methods.

Urban retail water suppliers must comply with their interim per capita water reductions by July 1, 2016, or else risk losing eligibility for state water grants or loans.

Agricultural Water Suppliers

Agricultural water suppliers, which include any public or private entity that provides water to 10,000 or more irrigated acres, are not be required to meet a specific percentage reduction in water use. However, they are required to carry out certain efficient water management practices no later than July 31, 2012, including the volumetric measurement of water deliveries to customers, and adopt pricing structures based at least in part on quantity delivered.

Agricultural water suppliers must implement a number of other efficiency measures, if the measures are locally cost effective and technically feasible. DWR will have to develop a method for quantifying the efficiency of agricultural water use and report back to the Legislature on the proposed method and plan for implementation no later than December 31, 2011.

SB 7 also revamps the existing Agricultural Water Management Planning Act. Agricultural water suppliers must prepare and adopt Agricultural Water Management Plans (“AWMPs”) on or before December 31, 2012, and update those plans by December 31, 2015, and every five years thereafter.

Agricultural water management plans must describe the water supplier and service area in some detail, describe the quantity and quality of water supplies (including water supply reliability), include an analysis of the effect of climate change on future water supplies, and describe their efficient water management practices. Agricultural water suppliers will have to hold at least one noticed public hearing prior to adopting their AWMPs. The suppliers will have to submit the adopted plans to DWR and a number of other agencies. Just as with approval of Urban Water Management Plans, CEQA will not apply to the approval of AWMPs (although CEQA would apply to projects that physically carry out such plans).

Agricultural water suppliers must comply with the water efficiency measures by July 1, 2013, or risk losing eligibility for state water grants or loans.

Department of Water Resources

The law requires DWR to propose new statewide targets for regional water resources management practices including, but not limited to, recycled water, brackish groundwater desalination, and infiltration and direct use of urban stormwater runoff, no later than January 1, 2011. The law requires DWR to develop a single, standardized water use reporting form to meet the water information needs of agencies and water suppliers.

SWRCB to Enforce Water Diversion Statements With Fines, Extra Staff (SB 8)

Under SB 8, the SWRCB will expand its water rights enforcement staff and levy substantial financial penalties against water users who fail to accurately report their diversion and use of surface water.

SB 8 amends a long-neglected provision of the Water Code that requires riparian water users and holders of pre-1914 appropriative rights to file Statements of Water Diversion and Use (“Statements”) with the SWRCB every three years (Water Code § 5100 et seq.). Such rights are not directly subject to the SWRCB’s regulatory water rights jurisdiction, and existing law provides no penalty for failure to timely file accurate Statements. SB 8 changes that.

Under SB 8, the SWRCB may assess costly penalties for violations of water use reporting and related requirements. Under the law, new Water Code section 5107(c) drastically increases the amount of civil penalties that the SWRCB may assess for the following violations: (1) Failure to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use; (2) Any unintentional misstatement in such reports; and (3) Failure to repair a malfunction of a measuring device.

The most severe penalties would be imposed for knowingly tampering with any measuring device or knowingly making a material misstatement in a Statement of Water Diversion and Use—$25,000 per violation plus $1,000 per day until the violation is corrected. The penalties would not be assessed until at least 30 days after the SWRCB notifies the water user of the alleged violation(s). That would seem to provide an opportunity for water users to remedy any violations and thereby avoid financial penalties.

Additionally, the budget for the SWRCB’s Water Rights Division is increased by $3.75 million for the express purpose of adding 25 permanent water rights enforcement positions. Funding for the new enforcement positions will be paid from fees imposed on water right holders.

Minor changes also were made to the Statement content, as well as to the circumstances under which Statements must be filed. The following changes apply to anyone who diverted water after December 31, 1965:


  • A Statement will now be required for annual spring water diversions greater than 25 acre-feet per year, even if the spring water does not flow off the property where the spring rises.

  • A Statement will be required even if an application for small domestic uses or stockwatering ponds, or application to appropriate water is pending before the SWRCB. Previously, no Statement was required for pending applications.

Statement content changes include:


  • Points of diversion and areas where water is used will have to be depicted on a specific U.S.G.S. topo map, identified using the California Coordinate System or latitude and longitude measurements.