Water Rights Decisions, Orders and Judgments

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The State Water Resources Control Board has designated many of its decisions and orders as precedential. The State Water Board has designated as precedent only those decisions and orders that have been adopted by the State Water Board itself, not those adopted by staff or an individual Board member pursuant to delegated authority. All decisions and orders adopted by the State Water Board itself are precedential, except a decision or order which states that it is not precedential, or is superseded by later enacted statutes, judicial opinions, or actions of the State Water Board. Resolutions are not precedential.

Precedential decisions and orders provide guidance for later decisions and orders. The State Water Board and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards ordinarily will follow State Water Board precedents, or provide a reasoned analysis for not doing so. Administrative precedents do not have the same binding effect as statutes or administrative regulations, however. The State Water Board may refine, reformulate or even reverse its precedents on a case-by-case basis in light of new insights or changed circumstances. A Regional Water Board cannot reverse a State Water Board precedent, but a Regional Water Board may distinguish a State Water Board precedent. A Regional Water Board may conclude that based on differences between the facts before the Regional Water Board and the facts that were the basis for the State Water Board precedent, a State Water Board precedent either does not apply or should be modified as applied in the proceeding before the Regional Water Board.