Instream Flow Dedication


This section describes the instream flow dedication (Water Code 1707) process. Instream Flow petitions can be filed by parties who hold appropriative water rights (pre-1914, or post-1914 rights), riparian claims or other rights.

  Submit your application to file a Petition for Instream Flow Dedication.

  Steps, Requirements and the Water Code

To request an instream flow dedication, the petitioner must follow these steps:

  1. Review Program Criteria and Limitations. The prospective petitioner reviews the information about the program to determine if the petition is appropriate. A call to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300 may be helpful.
  2. Submit a Petition. The process is initiated when the petitioner files a petition including two requests: a Water Code Section 1707 dedication and a petition under another section of the Water Code depending on how long the instream flow dedication is intended to last. Options to couple with a 1707 petition include:
    • Standard Change Petition. Use when party wants to make a permanent change to their water right.
    • Temporary Urgency Change Petition. Use when a party wants to make a temporary (180 days, renewable) change to their water right.
    • Temporary Transfer Petition. Use when the instream flow dedication also involves a transfer of water (such as when the water is dedicated in a specific reach then picked up by a buyer lower in the stream system). This type of change lasts up to 1 year.
    • Long Term Transfer Petition. Use when the instream flow dedication also involves a transfer of water (such as when the water is dedicated in a specific reach then picked up by a buyer lower in the stream system). This type of change lasts for more than one year.
    This petition specifically describes the proposed changes to the project. Typically an instream flow dedication 1) adds the purpose of use of fish and wildlife preservation and enhancement; 2) specifies a new place of use consisting of a reach of the stream. The petitioner must provide a copy of the petition to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.  The Board notifies the petitioner shortly after receipt if the petition is incomplete.
  3. Environmental Review. Consideration of environmental effects is required by the California Environmental Quality Act before a change petition can be issued. The Board examines the proposed project's potential environmental impacts and determines whether mitigation measures will be needed. In addition to any obligation the State Water Board may have under the California Environmental Quality Act, the State Water Board has an independent obligation to consider the effect of the proposed project on public trust resources and to protect those resources where feasible.
  4. Public Notice and Protest Resolution. If necessary, the State Board publishes a notice of the right holder's intent to change their project consistent with the petition process being utilized to request the instream flow dedication. If necessary, the State Water Board will consider protests and any objections or comments that have been filed. In some cases, a formal hearing may be held before one or more members of the State Board. The Board's decision is based upon the record produced during the hearing.

During the review process and before issuance, the Board will be looking for several requirements regarding the project and petition:

  • Change does not initiate a new water right;
  • Change can be made without unreasonably affecting other legal users of water,
  • Change is in the public interest, a concept that is an overriding concern in all Board decisions.
  • The revised water right may then be issued if the Board determines that the proposed change meets these criteria. If it determines otherwise, conditions may be imposed to ensure the criteria are satisfied or the petition may be denied.

Processing time for instream flow dedications are dependent on the type of petition that it is coupled with. Instream Flow Petitions may be considered for higher priority depending on their consistency with these criteria.

A Practitioner's Guide to Instream Flow Transactions in California
Produced by the Small Watershed Instream Flow Transfers (SWIFT) Working Group, the purpose of this guide is to help water right holders - and those assisting them - understand their options for keeping water instream in California. This guide briefly describes some of the most common types of instream flow transactions (i.e., methods for restoring flow for environmental purposes), and discusses in detail how to navigate the process of completing an instream flow dedication by changing a water right, as permitted by Water Code section 1707.

Scott River Trust Water Acquisition Decision Tree
This document identifies general considerations which which will guide the decision-making process for water acquisition for instream flows. It is derived from efforts in the Scott River watershed and we are sharing it with the broader community to assist them with the development of similar processes.

  Instream Flow Petition Notices and Orders

Below you will find a table containing the Instream Flow Petition Notices and Orders.

  1. To narrow the list, enter search criteria in the search box below. Please note: Search is case insensitive, alphanumeric, and allows up to 20 characters.
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Water Right Number Water Right Holder Requested Amount Watershed Notice
Protest Deadline

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  • Water Rights General Phone Line: (916) 341-5300