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Water Rights Registrations Program

Welcome to the State Water Board's Water Rights Registrations Program webpage. The State Water Board's Division of Water Rights administers California's water right system, including water right registrations. Since January 1, 1989, water right registrations have been available for expedited acquisition of appropriative water rights for certain small projects. For projects that do not meet the criteria for a registration, an appropriative water right may be established through the traditional Water Rights Applications: Permitting and Licensing Program. For more information about the Permitting and Licensing Program, please go here.

Because California water right law is complicated, you may have a water right even if you do not have a water right permit or license. In addition, you should not assume that you have a water right because you have an existing facility (dam, pipe, etc.) for the diversion of water.

Water right registrations are available for three different types of small water right projects: (1) Small Domestic Use, (2) Small Irrigation Use, and (3) Livestock Stockpond. Upon receipt of a registration, the State Water Board reviews the registration packet to ensure the submittal meets the criteria of the program. Once the review is complete, for Small Domestic Use and Livestock Stockpond registrations, the State Water Board shares the registration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife for an opportunity to develop special conditions, unless the special conditions or a waiver of conditions has already been received. For Small Irrigation Use registrations, you need to consult with California Department of Fish and Wildlife prior to submittal of your registration packet to the State Water Board. After State Water Board review, the State Water Board may then issue a certificate of registration subject to any special conditions from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Before considering whether to submit a registration to the State Water Board, you should review the general water rights information available here or contact the Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300. Once you have determined that a water right registration is your best option, you should read the information available on this web page.

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Announcements

This section contains links to important developments that have an impact on the Registrations Program. Please check this section periodically for the latest information.

  • Notices. The State Water Board posts monthly notice of registrations to appropriate water on its website. (05/04/16)
  • Annual Registration Program Information. The State Water Board provides information on an annual basis that summarizes the water appropriated and the availability of unappropriated water for certain stream systems pursuant to the registrations program. (06/01/15)
  • Emergency Tank Storage Registrations. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, in collaboration with the State Water Board, developed an expedited process for applying conditions to Small Domestic Use registrations for diversions that meet certain criteria. (03/03/14)

Small Domestic Use

This section describes the process for Small Domestic Use registrations:

  • Review Program Criteria and Limitations. The prospective registrant reviews the information about the program to determine if their project meets the criteria of the program. A call to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300 may be helpful.
  • Prepare Registration Packet. The prospective registrant prepares the registration packet, which includes the completed Registration of Small Domestic Appropriation form, any required supplements, and payment of the fee.
  • Submit Registration Packet. The prospective registrant submits the registration packet to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights. If fee payment is not included, the registration cannot be accepted for review and the State Water Board will return the form to the prospective registrant without further review. If the fee is included, the State Water Board will review the form to determine if a bona fide attempt to complete the form has been made. If a bona fide attempt has been made, the State Water Board will contact the registrant if any clarification is needed. If a bona fide attempt is not made, or if clarifying information is not provided in response to State Water Board requests, the registration will be rejected.
  • State Water Board Processing. The State Water Board will review the registration packet and contact the registrant if any clarifying information is necessary. The State Water Board will include the registration in a monthly notice of all registrations received during the previous month. If necessary, the State Water Board may contact the Natural Resources Agency or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the State Water Board will consider whether the registration is consistent with all State Water Board policies and may need to consider whether unappropriated water is available for appropriation.
  • Certificate Issuance. The State Water Board will issue a certificate for a completed registration. The certificate will include the conditions under which water may be diverted and used under the registration.
  • Maintain the Water Right. Once a registration certificate is issued, the registrant must exercise due diligence to maintain the water right.
    • Project Development and Operation. Construction is completed and water is diverted and applied to reasonable and beneficial use in compliance with the conditions of the registration certificate.
    • Annual Reporting and Fees. Annual reports of water diversion and use and annual fees are submitted when due.
    • Renewal Period. Registration certificates are subject to renewal every five years. A registration certificate will be revoked by operation of law if the required fees have not been paid or if annual reporting has not been completed in substantial compliance with the requirements.

Useful Small Domestic Use Information

Small Irrigation Use

This section describes the process for Small Irrigation Use registrations:

  • Review Program Criteria and Limitations. The prospective registrant reviews the information about the program to determine if their project meets the criteria of the program. A call to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300 may be helpful.
  • Prepare Draft Registration Packet. The prospective registration prepares a draft registration packet, which includes the completed (unsigned) Registration of Small Irrigation Use form, Supporting Technical Documentation, Screening Criteria, and any other required supplements.
  • CDFW Consultation. The prospective registrant submits the draft registration packet to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and works with CDFW staff for the development of any conditions.
  • Prepare Final Registration Packet. The prospective registrant prepares the final registration packet, which includes the completed (signed) Registration of Small Domestic Use Appropriation form, any required supplements, CDFW conditions or clearance, and payment of the fee.
  • Submit Final Registration Packet. The prospective registrant submits the final registration packet to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights. If fee payment is not included, the registration cannot be accepted for review and the State Water Board will return the form to the prospective registrant without further review. If the fee is included, the State Water Board will review the form to determine if a bona fide attempt to complete the form has been made. If a bona fide attempt has been made, the State Water Board will contact the registrant if any clarification is needed. If a bona fide attempt is not made, or if clarifying information is not provided in response to State Water Board requests, the registration will be rejected.
  • State Water Board Processing. The State Water Board will review the registration packet and contact the registrant if any clarifying information is necessary. The State Water Board will include the registration in a monthly notice of all registrations received during the previous month. If necessary, the State Water Board may contact the Natural Resources Agency or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the State Water Board will need to consider whether the registration is consistent with all State Water Board policies and may need to make a finding that unappropriated water is available for appropriation.
  • Certificate Issuance. The State Water Board will issue a certificate for a completed registration. The certificate will include the conditions under which water may be diverted and used under the registration.
  • Maintain the Water Right. Once a registration certificate is issued, the registrant must exercise due diligence to maintain the water right.
    • Project Development and Operation. Construction is completed and water is diverted and applied to reasonable and beneficial use in compliance with the conditions of the registration certificate.
    • Annual Reporting and Fees. Annual reports of water diversion and use and annual fees are submitted when due.
    • Renewal Period. Registration certificates are subject to renewal every five years. A registration certificate will be revoked by operation of law if the required fees have not been paid or if annual reporting has not been completed in substantial compliance with the requirements.

Useful Small Irrigation Use Information

Livestock Stockpond Use

This section describes the process for Livestock Stockpond Use registrations:

  • Review Program Criteria and Limitations. The prospective registrant reviews the information about the program to determine if their project meets the criteria of the program. A call to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300 may be helpful.
  • Prepare Registration Packet. The prospective registrant prepares the registration packet, which includes the completed Registration of Livestock Stockpond Use Appropriation form, any required supplements, and payment of the fee.
  • Submit Registration Packet. The prospective registrant submits the registration packet to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights. If fee payment is not included, the registration cannot be accepted for review and the State Water Board will return the form to the prospective registrant without further review. If the fee is included, the State Water Board will review the form to determine if a bona fide attempt to complete the form has been made. If a bona fide attempt has been made, the State Water Board will contact the registrant if any clarification is needed. If a bona fide attempt is not made, or if clarifying information is not provided in response to State Water Board requests, the registration will be rejected.
  • State Water Board Processing. The State Water Board will review the registration packet and contact the registrant if any clarifying information is necessary. The State Water Board will include the registration in a monthly notice of all registrations received during the previous month. If necessary, the State Water Board may contact the Natural Resources Agency or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In addition, the State Water Board will need to consider whether the registration is consistent with all State Water Board policies and may need to make a finding that unappropriated water is available for appropriation.
  • Certificate Issuance. The State Water Board will issue a certificate for a completed registration. The certificate will include the conditions under which water may be diverted and used under the registration.
  • Maintain the Water Right. Once a registration certificate is issued, the registrant must exercise due diligence to maintain the water right.
    • Project Development and Operation. Construction is completed and water is diverted and applied to reasonable and beneficial use in compliance with the conditions of the registration certificate.
    • Annual Reporting and Fees. Annual reports of water diversion and use and annual fees are submitted when due.
    • Renewal Period. Registration certificates are subject to renewal every five years. A registration certificate will be revoked by operation of law if the required fees have not been paid or if annual reporting has not been completed in substantial compliance with the requirements.

Useful Livestock Stockpond Use Information