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Water Rights and Water Quality Certification Fees Program

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - FY 2008-2009

Questions Related to the Board of Equalization's (BOE) Notice of Determination (Water Right Fee Bill)

Q. Why does the State Water Board charge annual water right fees?

A. Effective January 1, 2004, the Water Code was amended to require the State Water Board to adopt emergency regulations revising and establishing water right and water quality certification fees to be deposited in the Water Rights Fund in the State Treasury. Since then, the State Water Board has charged annual water right fees. The Water Code authorizes the State Water Board to periodically adjust the fees and requires the State Water Board to revise the fee schedule each fiscal year as necessary to conform to the revenue levels set forth in the annual Budget Act.

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Q. What changes were made to the fee schedule for Fiscal Year (FY) 2007-08?

A. For changes to the FY 2008-09 fee schedule refer to Final Emergency Regulations as approved on November 5, 2008 by the Office of Administrative Law – Amendments to Division 3 of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations as adopted on October 7, 2008 by State Water Resources Control Board Resolution No. 2008-74.

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Q. When will I receive my fee assessment for FY 2007-08?

A. The assessments (which will be included in a “Notice of Determination”) will be issued by the State Board of Equalization the week of November 10, 2008.

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Q. Who do I call if I have questions related to the payment of my water right fee assessment?

A. Any questions regarding your payment should be directed to the State Board of Equalization (BOE) at the following number: If the last two digits of your BOE Account number are between:

  • If account ends in 00-44, call (916) 324-2290
  • If account ends in 45-55, call (916) 327-7283
  • if account ends in 56-99, call (916) 327-2266

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Q. Who do I call if I have questions related to my water right?

A. Questions related to your water right license, permit, application, petition, etc. should be directed to:

State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA 95812
916-341-5300

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Q. If I feel I have been billed in error, where can I file a Petition for Reconsideration?

A. You must file your Petition for Reconsideration with the State Water Resources Control Board. The petition must be received by the State Water Board within 30 days of the date the assessment is issued (e.g, within 30 days of the date of State Board of Equalization’s “Notice of Determination”). Petitions for Reconsideration may not be sent to the State Board of Equalization. The State Water Resources Control Board’s mailing address is:

State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA 95812

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Q. Why is it important to notify the State Water Board when my mailing address changes, or the ownership of the water right changes?

A. An owner of an application, permit or license must immediately inform the State Water Board of any change in address or ownership. In dealing with all water right matters, the State Water Board’s Division of Water Rights (Division) mails all correspondence, reports and notice, including the annual water right fee, to the most recent owner and address shown on the Division’s record.

If a water right owner fails to inform the State Water Board of a change in ownership or address, the State Water Board may assess the annual water right fee to the owner and address shown on its record even if that owner sold the property served by the water right prior to the assessment of the fee. The State Water Board’s regulations specifically provide that if the identity of a fee payer changes before a water right fee assessment is issued, the previous fee payer is responsible for paying the fee unless he or she notified the State Water Board of the change at least 10 days before the fee was assessed. (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 23, § 1074(c).)

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Q. How do I change the ownership of my water right?

A. You can change the ownership of a water right by providing a notice to the State Water Board that identifies (1) the water right application number and either the permit or license number and (2) the name and address of the new owner. The notice can be in the form of a letter or a Notice of Assignment Form, which is available from the Division’s web site at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/publications_forms/forms/. If more than one water right is involved in the ownership change, your notice must clearly identify each water right by its application number and either the permit or license number. Please mail your notice to the State Water Board at:

State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights
P.O. Box 2000
Sacramento, CA 95812

If you prefer to fax in your notice, please fax it to (916) 341-5400.

You may also file your notice in person at the State Water Board’s Division Records Office on the second floor of the Joe Serna, Jr./California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) Building from 8:00 a.m. till 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The address is:

Joe Serna, Jr. / Cal EPA Building
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights Records Office, 2nd Floor
1001 “I” Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

For more information, please call (916) 341-5300.

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Q. How do I change the primary owner or the agent that represents the owner(s) of my jointly held water right?

A. If multiple owners hold a water right, they must designate a single person to serve as the primary owner or agent that deals with all water right matters, including the fees. You may change the primary owner or agent by providing a notice to the State Water Board that identifies (1) the application number and either the permit or license number and (2) the name and address of the new agent. The statement can be in the form of a letter or an Agent Assignment Form, which is available from the Division’s web site at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/publications_forms/forms/. All co-owners of the water right must sign the Agent Assignment Form before mailing or faxing to the Division. Please submit your notice to the State Water Board at the address or fax number above.

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Q. Will I be notified when the Division changes the ownership of my water right?

A. Yes. The Division will mail an ownership assignment letter to the new owner and mail a copy of that letter to the previous owner of record. The ownership assignment letter is the Division’s “official” notice to both the previous and new owners that the Division’s ownership records have been changed.

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Q. Why am I still receiving a fee bill when I already submitted an ownership change for my water right?

A. If the owner of an application, permit or license notifies the State Water Board of the name and address of the new owner of the water right at least ten days before the fee assessment is issued by the State Board of Equalization, the new owner of the water right is responsible for paying the water right fees. Otherwise, the previous owner (i.e., the owner of record) is responsible for paying all fees assessed for the water right. Annual water right fees are based on the fiscal year, which runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

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Q. How can I access the Division’s electronic Water Right Information Management System (eWRIMS) to determine who owns a particular water right?

A. You can access the eWRIMS (Water Rights Information Management System) via the Division’s website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/. Deployed in October of 2007, eWRIMS is a computer database developed by the State Water Resources Control Board to store, track and improve access to information on water rights in California. eWRIMS consists of both a tabular database and an integrated geographic information system (GIS). In eWRIMS, data can be searched by water right owner's name, watershed, stream system, or county; scanned images of permits and licenses can be accessed and downloaded; and points of diversion can be plotted and viewed in the GIS.

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Q. Can I review my water right file?

A. Yes. You can review your water right file at the Division’s Records Office on the second floor of the Cal EPA Building from 8:00 a.m. till 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You do not need an appointment to review your file, but the Division suggests that you call ahead at (916) 341-5421 to ensure that records staff are available to help you and that the files you seek are available. The Records Office is on the second floor of the Joe Serna, Jr./California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal EPA) Building from 8:00 a.m. till 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The address is:

Joe Serna, Jr. / Cal EPA Building
State Water Resources Control Board
Division of Water Rights Records Office, 2nd Floor
1001 “I” Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

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Q. What sections in the California Code of Regulations pertain to the ownership of water rights and the requirements or procedures for changes in water right ownership and addresses?

A. See the following sections of Title 23, California Code of Regulations:

  • §691 Joint Applications
  • §707 Legal Nature, Name and Address of Applicant
  • §830 Procedure on Change in Address
  • §831 Notice to Board of Changes in Ownership
  • §832 Contests as to Ownership
  • §833 Presumption Based on Ownership of Place of Use
  • §834 Presumption that Water Right Passes upon Foreclosure Sale
  • §835 Presumption upon Termination of an Option or Lease Relative to Real Property
  • §1074(c) Administration of Fees and Expenses

These regulations are available at www.calregs.com or on request from the Division.

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Q. I have a petition to change the conditions of my water right pending before the State Water Board. I received an annual fee on the petition this year for the first time. Why do I have to pay this fee?

A. The State Water Board’s regulations adopted in 2003 allow the State Water Board to assess annual fees for some petitions. Whether or not a petition is subject to an annual fee depends on certain factual circumstances. The staff of the Division of Water Rights has been reviewing each pending petition on file with the State Water Board to determine if those circumstances exist which trigger the assessment of the annual petition fee. As a result of this review, the Division staff may have determined that fees must be assessed that were not previously assessed.

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Q. Although I have a water right, there is no water available to divert (or my pond is dry). Why should I pay the fee?

A. The water right fee is based upon the face value of the water right permit or license and does not depend upon whether water is available for diversion or diversion to storage.

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Q. What happens if I want to revoke my storage right?

A. Revocation of a permit or license covering a reservoir formed by a dam that is located in a stream channel normally requires removal or breach of the dam because of the potential of the project to continue to store water behind the dam. Please be aware that breach or removal of the dam will probably require clearance by the Department of Fish and Game, and the Regional Water Quality Control Board and may require authorization from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, due to the concern for erosion and sediment control and possible streambed alteration. You should contact these agencies prior to removing the dam to be certain of each agency’s requirements. There may be fees associated with these agencies\' review. The Division may consider other proposals for ensuring that unauthorized collection of water does not occur after a revocation of the storage rights has been approved (e.g. removal or permanent opening of an outlet valve) on a case-by-case basis.

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