Hearings Program: Petition for Statutory Adjudication of Water Rights in the Fresno River Watershed

On October 18, 2018, the Division of Water Rights received a petition from the Madera Irrigation District seeking to initiate a statutory adjudication of the water rights to the Fresno River and its tributaries. The petition requests that the State Water Board use its existing authorities to resolve ongoing conflicts over water rights, use, and allocations within the Fresno River watershed.

A statutory adjudication is a proceeding by which the rights to water in a stream system are determined through a State Water Board proceeding and court decree. California Water Code sections 2500-2868 and California Code of Regulations Title 23 section 946 describe the State Water Board’s process in evaluating a petition and conducting a statutory adjudication. Previous statutory adjudications conducted by the Board are listed on the Division’s Water Rights Judgments and Determinations page.

The Board considered the petition at a September 17, 2019 Board Meeting and adopted the Draft Resolution linked below with no changes. Prior to the meeting, a written comment period was held from July 16 – August 16, 2019. Comment letters received by the Board are available upon request. Fresno River parties were allowed time to negotiate an agreement to resolve conflicts over the diversion and use of water in the basin and were directed to return to the Board in May 2020, or as the Board’s schedule allowed, to report on their progress. On June 16, 2020, Board staff notified parties that it plans to bring the Fresno River settlement progress update before the Board no earlier than September 2020.

If you are interested in receiving updates on this matter, please sign up for the Fresno River Adjudication email list (under the Water Rights Heading). For other questions regarding this matter, please contact the Hearings Unit by email at wr_hearing.unit@waterboards.ca.gov, or by phone at (916) 319-0960.



Lower Fresno River Preliminary Desktop Investigation

The Division of Water Rights has completed a preliminary desktop investigation of water rights and potential claims to the mainstem of the Fresno River from Hidden Dam to the confluence with the San Joaquin River (Lower Fresno River). Please note that this investigation compiles publicly available information to aid the parties in their negotiations. It does NOT represent a determination of water rights or supporting facts. The investigation results are contained in the tables and maps below, and the summary report contains a detailed explanation of the methods, data sources, and context for the investigation results. The report also includes instructions on how to provide comments or corrections.

In March 2020 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released a report on Instream Flow Criteria on a Watershed Scale for the Fresno River (last updated 6/2/20). More information is available on CDFW’s Functional Flows website.

On July 24, 2020 the Division of Water Rights released the Fresno River Investigation Geodatabase, an interactive online map tool. It visually presents information on water rights and claims, including points of diversion (PODs), places of use (POUs), land ownership, beneficial uses, reported diversion data, and lands which may be associated with unclaimed riparian rights. The Geodatabase includes a story map panel with instructions for its use.