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California Water Boards: Water Rights - Water Diversion and Use

Water Rights: Statement of Water Diversion and Use Program

It is recommended that you read this entire page to be aware of your responsibilities under California law to report your water diversions.  Failure to file a statement may subject you to civil liabilities that carry a maximum fine of $1,000 plus $500 for each day the violation continues after 30 days of the State Water Board notifying you of the violation.

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General Information

California Water Code §5101 requires each person or organization that uses diverted surface water or pumped groundwater from a known subterranean stream after December 31, 1965 to file with the State Water Board a Statement of Water Diversion and Use prior to July 1 of the following year. 

There are four exemptions to this requirement:

  • Diversions from a spring that does not flow off the property on which it is located and from which the person’s combined diversions do not exceed 25 acre-feet in any year
  • Diversions covered by a registration for small domestic or livestock stockpond uses, a stockpond certificate, or a permit or license to appropriate water on file with the board.
  • Diversions covered by a Notice of Groundwater Extraction and Diversion (Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernadino, and Ventura counties only).
  • Diversions which are regulated by a watermaster appointed by the Department of Water Resources or a court where the watermaster files reports detailing the persons who have diverted and describe the general place of use and the quantity of water that has been diverted from each source.

An initial Statement should be completed for each point of diversion and should identify the amount of water used during the first calendar year. The Statement must be filed with the Division before July 1 of the following year.

The main purpose of the Statement Program is to create a central repository for records of diversions and uses of water. This repository differs from the records of appropriated water rights that are registered, permitted and licensed. A Statement is not a confirmed water right; it is simply a statement made by the person or organization who diverted and used the water.  Division of Water Rights staff do not analyze the contents of a Statement, or research the legal water right status of the diverter at the time of receipt.  Staff determines if all the information has been filled out, and the Statement is accepted as complete or returned as incomplete.  At a later time, a Statement may be reviewed for compliance purposes, but they are not systematically audited for accuracy.

After your Initial Statement

After you file an initial Statement, there are two requirements you need to be aware of:

Supplemental Statements: A Supplemental Statement must be filed by the owner or agent of record at three-year intervals following the filing of an Initial Statement of Diversion and Use. The Division will notify Statement holders when the triennial report is due and the Supplemental Statement must then be completed online through the eWRIMS Online Reporting prior to July 1 of that year (i.e. for water diverted during 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Supplemental Statement is due by July 1, 2012). If the location of the existing point of diversion as identified on the Supplemental Statement has changed, the new location must be identified. If a new point of diversion has been added, resulting in more than one point of diversion, a separate Statement must be filed with the Division for the additional point of diversion.

Change of Diverter, Diverter Address or Responsible Party: Changes in the name and address of the person diverting water or a change in the Responsible Party should be made on the Supplemental Statement for Change form located at: Supplemental Statement for Change form so that the Division’s database can be updated. The Division uses the Diverter information contained in the database to notify you of applications to appropriate water that may affect your supply, and also to notify you that it is time to file your triennial Supplemental Statement of Diversion and Use. Failure to receive notification that a Supplemental Statement of Diversion and Use is due does not relieve you of the responsibility to report water diversion and use. It is your responsibility to notify the Division of Diverter/Address changes, of if for any reason a filing notification was not received. Penalties may be assessed if water is diverted but not reported.

If the notification to file the triennial Supplemental Statement is returned to the Division from the U.S. Postal Service, the diverter’s water use will be considered inactive and the Division’s database will be modified to reflect this status. The database modification will prompt the Division to stop mailing Supplemental Statements and notices of proposed appropriations. If the Division is not notified in a timely manner of a new mailing address, the Division may require the diverter to file a new Initial Statement to comply with reporting guidelines.

If you have been notified to file an online Supplemental Statement you can access the Report Management System (RMS) at eWRIMS Online Reporting.

Benefits of Reporting

In addition to showing intent to comply with the law, having a Statement on file with the State Water Board is beneficial for several reasons. 

  • The information collected from the Statements helps the Division to protect the rights of existing and known diverters and to evaluate whether there is a reasonable likelihood that water is available for appropriation for new applications.
  • If the Division has a record of an active Statement with your contact information, the law requires the Division to notify you about applications to appropriate water that might affect your supply.  
  • Water use reported on Statements and in reports required under the appropriation process will also help the Division to ensure the proper allocation of the State’s water resources.
  • If the water user meets the following three criteria:
    1. diversions and filings are in compliance with the Water Code;
    2. diversions occur under a valid water right; and
    3. Statements includes accurate monthly diversion amounts,

    ...then Statements create official documentation of compliance with water right laws.

Penalties and Recent Changes to Requirements

In recent years, the California Legislature has made changes to the forty-five year old Statement program.  The purpose of these changes is to make the Statement program more effective as a tool for determining the amount of water beneficially used.   These changes include:

  • Revisions to the types of diversions exempt from reporting.  NOTE: the exemptions at the top of this page are current.
    Reporting the following types of diversions is not required if the diversion occurred between December 31, 1965 and December 31, 2008:
    • The diversion was covered by an application to appropriate water on file with the board;
    • The diversion was included in the consumptive use data for the Delta lowlands published by the Department of Water Resources in its hydrologic data bulletins; or
    • The Department of Water Resources reported the diversion in its annual hydrologic data bulletins.
  • Revisions to the information required on a form, including accurate monthly measurements. 
    See information regarding measurement requirements in the next section of this page.
  • Revised penalties associated with reporting inaccurate information, including creating a new penalty for failure to file.  This table summarizes the differences in the penalties:

Violation

Old Penalty
(before 2009)

New Penalty (2009 and after)

Correction Period

Per Day After Correction Period

Failure to File None $1,000 30 Days $500
Accidental Misstatement* *Including those caused by a broken water measuring device $500 $250 60 Days $250
Willful Misstatement*
*Including those caused by tampering with a water measuring device
$1,000 $25,000 30 Days $1,000
Other Violation None $500 30 Days $250

Water Diversion Measurement

Beginning on January 1, 2012, diverters of water who file Statements are required to measure their monthly water diversions, and report those amounts when they submit their reports the following year.  California Water Code section 5103 (e)(1) states the following:

“On and after January 1, 2012, monthly records of water diversions.  The measurements of the diversion shall be made using best available technologies and best professional practices.  Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to require the implementation of technologies or practices by a person who provides to the [State Water Board] documentation demonstrating that the implementation of those practices is not locally cost effective.”

Due to the variety of diversion methods in the State and the ambiguity of the term “not locally cost effective”, the State Water Board held a public workshop to consider information regarding the requirements of Water Code section 5103 (e)(1) on July 21, 2011.

  Receive the latest developments on water diversion measurement by email. Subscribe to the “Water Measurement” subscription list located on the State Water Board’s web site.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Statement Program Forms