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Frequently Asked Questions for the Water Rights Registrations Program

In addition to the Frequently Asked Questions listed below, the Division of Water Rights maintains general Frequently Asked Questions.

If you have questions after reviewing the answers on this webpage, you may contact the Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300.

 

General

How do I register my water use for small domestic, livestock stockpond or small irrigation purposes?

You can review the program by visiting this web site or by contacting the Division of Water Rights. The process for submitting your registration form to the Division of Water Rights is described on the first page of the registration form and in the process guide located at the end of the form.

What is Direct Diversion?

Direct Diversion means you (1) divert water for immediate use or (2) divert water for short term regulation in a sump, pond, or tank from which it is continually used at a more convenient rate.

What is Diversion to Storage?

Diversion to Storage means you collect water in your pond or tank and hold it for later use during a time of deficient streamflow.

Can I make changes to my registration once a certificate has been issued?

Registrants may petition the State Water Board to approve a change in the point of diversion or place of use. To file a petition, the registrant completes the applicable registration form and sends the completed form and a fee (currently $250, see fee schedule for updated information) to the State Water Board.

Small Domestic Use

What are the basic criteria that need to be met for a Small Domestic Use Registration?

A summary of the criteria for registering a Small Domestic Use is available below:

  • Geographic Scope. Small Domestic Use registrations are available statewide.
  • Rate and Amount. Small Domestic Use registrations must not exceed the following: direct diversion at a rate not to exceed 4,500 gallons per day or diversion to storage of an amount not to exceed 10 acre-feet per year. Direct Diversion means you (1) divert water for immediate use or (2) divert water for short term collection into a sump, pond, or tank from which it will be used at a more convenient rate. Diversion to Storage means you plan to collect water in your pond or tank and keep it for use during a time of deficient streamflow.
  • Purpose of Use. The purposes of use may include Domestic, Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement. For any use other than Domestic, the use must be associated with a dwelling or other facility for human occupation.

These criteria represent the basic requirements for consideration. The registration may be subject to additional limitations, as described below.

What are the limitations of a Registration of Small Domestic Use?

A Small Domestic Use registration cannot be approved by the State Water Board if it includes any of the following:

  • A rate or amount in excess of the program limits.
  • A purpose of use not included in the available uses.
  • Diversion of water from a stream segment for which the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has established minimum streamflow requirements;
  • Diversion of water that includes a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water that includes a water diversion facility other than a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code where the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency has not determined (1) that the facility is needed to supply domestic water to the residents of the county or counties through which the river flows and (2) that the facility will not adversely affect its free-flowing condition or natural character.
  • Diversion of water where the State Water Board finds that the diversion would impair the extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values of any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system declared by the State Water Board to be fully appropriated during the season of proposed use unless the registration is consistent with any conditions specified that would allow the registration.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system identified by the State Water Board as a stream system that may become fully appropriated where the State Water Board finds that unappropriated water is not available to supply the proposed registration.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a small domestic use registration or a water right permit or license for domestic or municipal purposes.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a livestock stockpond use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 10 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a small irrigation use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 20 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or storage of water involving an onstream dam facility located within the geographic area of the North Coast Instream Flow Policy constructed on a Class 1 or 2 stream after July 19, 2006.

How can I use water that I have diverted under a Small Domestic Use Registration?

The purposes of use may include Domestic, Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement. For any use other than Domestic, the use must be associated with a dwelling or other facility for human occupation. A description of each purpose of use is provided below:

  • Domestic use means the use of water in homes, resorts, motels, organization camps, camp grounds, etc., including the incidental watering of domestic stock for family sustenance or enjoyment and the irrigation of not to exceed one-half acre in lawn, ornamental shrubbery, or gardens at any single establishments. The use of water at a camp ground or resort for human consumption, cooking or sanitary purposes is a domestic use. Use of water for either commercial livestock or the production of irrigated crops that is not incidental (secondary) to the primary use for human habitation (e.g. human consumption, cooking, sanitary use, etc.) is not a domestic use.
  • Aesthetic use means the use of water for aesthetic purposes, such as maintenance of a pond for decoration.
  • Fire Protection use means the use of water to fight fires or prevent fires from spreading.
  • Recreational use means the use of water for resorts or other recreational establishments, boating, swimming, and fishing, and may include water which is appropriated by storage and either retained in the reservoir or released downstream to support these purposes. Use of water at a camp ground or resort for human consumption, cooking or sanitary purposes is a domestic use and irrigation of golf courses is an irrigation use.
  • Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement use means using water to maintain or provide habitat or other benefit for fish and wildlife by taking water under control as in the following examples:
    • The collection or diversion of water to storage for either retention in the reservoir or release downstream for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife; or
    • Direct diversion of water for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife.

This category of water use includes the use of water for the raising of fish or other organisms for scientific purposes or release in the waters of the state.

Small Irrigation Use

What are the basic criteria that need to be met for a Small Irrigation Use Registration?

A summary of the current criteria for registering a Small Irrigation Use is available below:

  • Geographic Scope. Small Irrigation Use registrations are only available in coastal stream watersheds from the Mattole River to San Francisco and coastal stream watersheds entering northern San Pablo Bay.
  • Rate and Amount. Small Irrigation Use registrations must meet either of the following criteria:
    • Diversion to offstream storage not to exceed 20 acre-feet per year where the storage facility is either existing or proposed for construction within cultivated lands.
    • Diversion to onstream storage reservoirs located on Class 3 streams not to exceed 20 acre-feet per year where the reservoir was constructed prior to January 1, 2012.
  • Purpose of Use. The purpose of use must be Irrigation, Heat Control, or Frost Protection. The following uses may be included as uses incidental to the primary use: Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement.
  • Place of Use. The place of use must be lands currently under cultivation.
  • CDFW Conditions or Clearance. The registration packet must include either of the following from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: (1) conditions or (2) clearance that conditions are not needed.

These criteria represent the basic requirements for consideration. The registration may be subject to additional limitations, as described below.

What are the limitations of a Registration of Small Irrigation Use?

A Small Irrigation Use registration cannot be approved by the State Water Board if it includes any of the following:

  • A rate or amount in excess of the program limits.
  • A purpose of use not included in the available uses.
  • Diversion of water from a stream segment for which the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has established minimum streamflow requirements;
  • Diversion of water that includes a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water that includes a water diversion facility other than a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code where the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency has not determined (1) that the facility is needed to supply domestic water to the residents of the county or counties through which the river flows and (2) that the facility will not adversely affect its free-flowing condition or natural character.
  • Diversion of water where the State Water Board finds that the diversion would impair the extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values of any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system declared by the State Water Board to be fully appropriated during the season of proposed use unless the registration is consistent with any conditions specified that would allow the registration.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system identified by the State Water Board as a stream system that may become fully appropriated where the State Water Board finds that unappropriated water is not available to supply the proposed registration.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a livestock stockpond use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 20 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a small domestic use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 20 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or use of water by a registrant who has more than one small irrigation use registration, unless the ratio of diversion or storage facilities to land does not exceed one per 20 irrigated acres and the total water use on all acreage covered by the registrations, including water use based on other rights, does not exceed 100 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion of water involving a facility that is not consistent with the State Water Board's Policy for Maintaining Instream Flows in Northern California Coastal Streams.
  • Diversion or storage of water involving an onstream dam facility located within the geographic area of the North Coast Instream Flow Policy constructed onstream dam facility constructed on a Class 1 or 2 stream after July 19, 2006.

How can I use water that I have diverted under a small Irrigation Use Registration?

The purpose of use must be Irrigation, Heat Control, or Frost Protection. The following uses may be included as uses incidental to the primary use: Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement. A description of each purpose of use is provided below:

  • Irrigation use means the use of water for the production of irrigated crops or the maintenance of large areas of lawn, shrubbery, or gardens.
  • Heat Control use means the application of water to crops by fine sprays, mists, or sprinklers for the purpose of preventing damage by high temperatures.
  • Frost Protection use means the application of water to crops by fine sprays, mists, or sprinklers for the purpose of preventing damage by frost.
  • Aesthetic use means the use of water for aesthetic purposes, such as maintenance of a pond for decoration.
  • Fire Protection use means the use of water to fight fires or prevent fires from spreading.
  • Recreational use means the use of water for resorts or other recreational establishments, boating, swimming, and fishing, and may include water which is appropriated by storage and either retained in the reservoir or released downstream to support these purposes.
  • The following are examples of uses not covered under this type of registration: Use of water at a camp ground or resort for human consumption, cooking or sanitary purposes is a domestic use.
  • Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement use means using water to maintain or provide habitat or other benefit for fish and wildlife by taking water under control as in the following examples:
    • The collection or diversion of water to storage for either retention in the reservoir or release downstream for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife; or
    • Direct diversion of water for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife.

This category of water use includes the use of water for the raising of fish or other organisms for scientific purposes or release in the waters of the state.

Livestock Stockpond Use

What are the basic criteria that need to be met for a Livestock Stockpond Use Registration?

A summary of the criteria for registering a Livestock Stockpond Use is available below:

  • Geographic Scope.Livestock Stockpond Use registrations are available statewide.
  • Rate and Amount.Livestock Stockpond Use registrations must not exceed the following: direct diversion at a rate not to exceed 4,500 gallons per day or diversion to storage of an amount not to exceed10 acre-feet per year.
  • Purpose of Use. The purpose of use must be Stockwatering. The following uses may be included as uses incidental to the primary use: Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement.

These criteria represent the basic requirements for consideration. The registration may be subject to additional limitations, as described below.

What are the limitations of a Registration of Livestock Stockpond Use Registration Use?

A Livestock Stockpond Use registration cannot be approved by the State Water Board if it includes any of the following:

  • A rate or amount in excess of the program limits.
  • A purpose of use not included in the available uses.
  • Diversion of water from a stream segment for which the Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has established minimum streamflow requirements;
  • Diversion of water that includes a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water that includes a water diversion facility other than a dam, reservoir, or other water impoundment facility on any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code where the Secretary of the Natural Resources Agency has not determined (1) that the facility is needed to supply domestic water to the residents of the county or counties through which the river flows and (2) that the facility will not adversely affect the free-flowing condition or natural character of the river.
  • Diversion of water where the State Water Board finds that the diversion would impair the extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values of any river designated as wild and scenic under the California Public Resources Code.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system declared by the State Water Board to be fully appropriated during the season of proposed use unless the registration is consistent with any conditions specified that would allow the registration.
  • Diversion of water from a stream system identified by the State Water Board as a stream system that may become fully appropriated where the State Water Board finds that unappropriated water is not available to supply the proposed registration.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a Small Domestic Use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 10 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or use of water involving a facility already served by or used pursuant to a Small Irrigation Use registration, unless the total combined water use does not exceed 20 acre-feet per year.
  • Diversion or use of water by a registrant who has more than one registration, unless the ratio of stockponds to land does not exceed one per 50 acres.
  • Diversion or storage of water involving an onstream dam facility located within the geographic area of the North Coast Instream Flow Policy constructed onstream dam facility constructed on a Class 1 or 2 stream after July 19, 2006.

How can I use water that I have diverted under a Livestock Stockpond Use Registration?

The purpose of use must be Stockwatering. The following uses may be included as incidental to the primary use: Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement. A description of each purpose of use is provided below:

  • Stockwatering use means the use of water for commercial livestock.
  • Aesthetic use means the use of water for aesthetic purposes, such as maintenance of a pond for decoration.
  • Fire Protection use means the use of water to fight fires or prevent fires from spreading.
  • Recreational use means the use of water for resorts or other recreational establishments, boating, swimming, and fishing, and may include water which is appropriated by storage and either retained in the reservoir or released downstream to support these purposes.
  • The following are examples of uses not covered under this type of registration: Use of water at a camp ground or resort for human consumption, cooking or sanitary purposes is a domestic use and irrigation of golf courses is an irrigation use.
  • Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement use means using water to maintain or provide habitat or other benefit for fish and wildlife by taking water under control as in the following examples:
    • The collection or diversion of water to storage for either retention in the reservoir or release downstream for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife; or
    • Direct diversion of water for the purpose of preservation or enhancement of fish or wildlife.

This category of water use includes the use of water for the raising of fish or other organisms for scientific purposes or release in the waters of the state.