Statement of Water Diversion and Use Program

Frequently Asked Questions

View / Download Blank Initial Statements of Diversion and Use forms

What is the benefit of filing Statements of Diversion and Use?

  • The State Water Board maintains the official records for water rights in the State of California. Therefore, if a water diverter is:
    1. Diverting under a valid water right;
    2. In compliance with all provisions of the Water Code;
    3. Reporting accurate monthly amounts;
    then filing Statements of Diversion and Use establishes an official record of compliance with State law.
  • Water diverters with records on file are notified directly by the Division of Water Rights if someone is applying for a water right to divert water upstream from their diversion. Existing water diverters will be able to file a protest of these intended diversions.
  • In years of water shortage, Statements of Water Diversion and Use may be able to help a water user continue their diversion.

How many statements does a diverter need to file if they have more than one point of diversion?

  • Water Code section 5102 requires that a separate statement be filed for each point of diversion, regardless of type of water right claimed.

What if a diverter misses the July 1 deadline for submitting a Statement?

  • The State Water Board can assess an initial $1,000 penalty for failure to file, plus $500 per day after notification from the State Water Board.

For which time period is a diverter required to report?

  • Initial Statements filed before this year’s July 1 deadline should report water diverted and used between the previous calendar year (i.e. January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016).
  • Supplemental Statements are required annually following the Initial Statement filing and are required to be filed on-line at our reporting website (Report Management System).

What if a diverter knows the annual amount diverted or stored, but does not know the monthly values?

  • Monthly report values can be estimated until January 1, 2012, at which time precise monthly diversion and storage amounts become mandatory.

If a diverter uses both riparian water and contract water, how do they report the difference on their Statements?

  • Only the holder of the water right must report the diversion and use. The riparian water should be reported by the riparian diverter on a Statement of Diversion and Use, the contract amounts are reported by the water district that owns the water right. It is the riparian diverter’s responsibility to determine the amount of water they pay for and the amount diverted under a riparian right.

If an individual collects “sheet flow” and there is no channel, gravel, or waterway is there still a requirement to report?

  • “Sheet flow” is informally defined as “a flow of water that originates from precipitation, snowmelt, or rising groundwater that covers a large aerial extent of the ground surface in a relatively thin film and is not concentrated into a watercourse.”
  • If the collection is truly “sheet flow” and not a diversion from a known and definite channel, then there is nothing in the Water Code that requires reporting to the State Water Board.

Is there a “cap” on the penalty amounts?

  • No. In determining the appropriate penalty amount, the State Water Board shall consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to:
    • The extent of harm caused by the violation.
    • The nature and persistence of the violation.
    • The length of time over which the violation occurs.
    • Any corrective action undertaken by the violator.

Does the diverter report the same amounts if they have both a riparian and Post-1914 appropriative water right for the same beneficial use?

  • No. Report the amount diverted for each point of diversion under the riparian right on a separate the Statement of Diversion and Use.
  • The amount diverted under a post-1914 water right should be reported on a Report of Permittee or a Licensee Report.

Is a Statement required if the water is diverted for a project with a pending application?

  • Yes. Water diverted and used after January 1, 2009 for a project with a pending application must be reported on an Initial Statement.

Is a Statement required if the diverter is pumping groundwater?

  • Only if the diverter is pumping from known subterranean streams.

Is a Statement required if the diverter has adjudicated water rights?

  • Yes. To the State Water Board’s knowledge, there are no watermasters in the State currently providing detailed diversion reports. Therefore the responsibility belongs to individual diverters.
  • Groundwater diverters in adjudicated Southern California water basins are always exempt from filing Statements.*
    *If the diverter is pumping groundwater from an unadjudicated basin in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Riverside, or Ventura counties, a different form is required.

Is a Statement required if the diverter is diverting water from a natural spring?

  • Yes. The only exception is if the diversion meets the following two criteria:
    1. The diversion is from a spring that does not flow off the property on which it is located; and
    2. The total diversion amounts from the spring do not exceed 25 acre-feet per year.

Will the State Water Board penalize diverters for their use of water before 2009 if they have not yet filed an Initial Statement?

  • Administrative penalties for failure to file a Statement before July 1, 2010 can only be imposed for water diverted on and after January 1, 2009.

What is the “enforcement plan” for the new Statement penalties?

  • The State Water Board is aware of specific individuals who may need to report. The State Water Board has notified some of these individuals and may provide notification to other individuals depending on resources. Whether or not the State Water Board provides actual notification, the State Water Board can assess a penalty for a reporting violation. Water diverters must take responsibility for compliance with the laws.
  • The State Water Board will vigorously enforce the new laws.
  • The Division is in the process of hiring additional investigative staff which will increase our ability to investigate unlawful diversions and failure to file statements statewide.

If a diverter filed an Initial Statement of Diversion and Use in the past, but did not file any of the required Supplemental Statements, what should they do?

  • Contact the Division of Water Rights immediately.

Do Initial Statement filers need to use the new electronic water use reporting system?

  • Yes but only after they have filed their Initial statement. The Division accepts Initial Statement filings via mail, fax or email. Our reporting system where supplemental statements/annual reports can be found and filed at is located at our Report Management System.