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Water Rights - Applications for Groundwater Recharge/Storage

Applications for Groundwater Recharge/Storage

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What is Groundwater Recharge?

Groundwater recharge is the augmentation of groundwater, by natural or artificial means, with surface water or recycled water. Groundwater recharge is not a beneficial use of water in and of itself. Some groundwater recharge projects may be based on short-term water surpluses that occur only infrequently, assuming that water is available for appropriation. A diversion to underground storage can be a method of diverting water, taking advantage of the natural storage capacity of aquifers, but to obtain a water right there must be designated beneficial use of the water placed to underground storage. Groundwater storage projects have been successfully constructed and are operating in California, with diversion to underground storage being the method of diversion, but they include use of the stored water for beneficial use, just as with surface water storage projects. The beneficial use ordinarily involves extraction of the stored water before putting the water to use, but may also involve uses such as protecting water quality by preventing saline water intrusion that depend on leaving the water underground.


When is an Appropriative Water Right needed?

You will need a water right if you intend to capture stream flows, including peak storm events, for groundwater recharge and later beneficial use. Except where the storage and beneficial use are authorized under an existing appropriative right, or a change in that right, this will require filing an application with the State Water Resources Control Board to obtain a water right permit. In the water right application, you will need to specify the eventual beneficial uses (i.e., municipal, irrigation, municipal, industrial, water quality, etc.) of the water placed to underground storage.


What are Additional Requirements for an Application for Underground Storage?

  • An engineering map (Cal Code Regs., tit. 23, sections 715c, 722, 733)
  • Information on measuring devices (Cal Code Regs., tit. 23, section 846)
  • Underground Storage Supplement Form, including geological information on groundwater reservoir, including surface area and volume (Cal Code Regs., tit. 23, section 733)

What are Things to Consider for the Type of Application to File?

Consideration of how long you plan to operate your project and how urgently you need approval should be made in determining whether to apply for a standard permit or temporary permit. An application for a standard permit should be filed for proposed long-term projects. A temporary permit should be filed for projects of a temporary nature where an urgent need exists. Assuming there is an urgent need, an application for a temporary permit may be filed simultaneously with an application for a permit, to cover the period until a standard long-term permit is issued. Temporary permits expire within 180 days after the date of issuance, unless an earlier date is specified or the temporary permit has been revoked. Temporary permits may be renewed by the State Water Board. Both types of permits require detailed reporting of the amount of water diverted into underground storage, and the amount removed for beneficial use.

  • Permit – Normally the development period for a new permit-the period needed to construct the project, store the water, and put the water to beneficial use-is 15 years, but for a groundwater recharge/storage project, a much longer development period may be warranted.
  • Temporary Permits – No development period is specified, but party must report on beneficial use of the diverted water. For these types of projects, the party will need to file temporary permit renewals until the amount beneficially used is equivalent to the diversion amount.

When is a New Appropriative Water Right Permit Not Needed?

  • Projects designed and used solely for flood protection and not for beneficial use; where capture of flood waters is necessary to protect health and safety, it is not intended to store the water for later beneficial use by any party. This assumes that the water is held no longer than needed for flood control and that no right is asserted to any of the groundwater recharge that results from the flood control.
  • Projects that propose to replenish groundwater with recycled water, where the recycled water comes directly from a water treatment plant and is not conveyed using a surface water stream system or a subterranean stream. In this situation, a wastewater change petition may be necessary if the wastewater was previously discharged to a stream.
  • Projects diverting water under a valid pre-1914 appropriative right.
  • Projects that use water delivered under a water supply contract or purchase agreement in which the water purveyor delivering the water has a right to divert water to underground storage at the proposed location.

Pending Applications and Issued Temporary Permits

The table below lists all temporary permit applications for groundwater recharge (underground storage) that the State Water Board received since Executive Order B-36-15 was issued in November, 2015. New notices of application (Water Code § 1428) and State Water Board actions on the applications will be added to the page shortly after they occur.

2017
Application Number Applicant County Status and Significant Actions
T032842

Application | Supplement Form | Attachment | Maps | Photos
City of Huron Fresno 7/14/2017 Application Received

T032766

Application | Supplement Form | Attachments and Maps
Scott Valley Irrigation District Siskiyou 1/19/2017 Application Received
2/7/2017 Notice Issued
2/22/2017 Application Canceled

2016
Application Number Applicant County Status and Significant Actions
T032756
Application | Supplement Form | Attachments and Maps
Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Yolo 12/13/2016 Application Received
12/27/2016 Notice Issued
1/12/2017 Permit Issued

7/11/17 Permit Revoked
T032738
Application | Attachment 1 and Supplement Form | Map
City of Corona Riverside 10/10/2016 Application Received
3/6/2017 Application Canceled
T032704
Application | Attachments and Supplement FormMap | Photos
Eastside Water District Stanislaus/Merced 7/26/2016 Application Received
9/2/2016 Notice Issued

11/8/2016 Permit Issued
5/1/17 Permit Revoked
T032703
Application | Attachments and Supplement FormMap | Photos
Eastside Water District Stanislaus/Merced
7/26/2016 Application Received
9/2/2016 Notice Issued

12/6/2016 Application Canceled
T032581
Application | Supplement Form |  Attachment and MapsSupplement Form Attachment
Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Yolo
1/28/2016 Application Received
2/3/2016 Permit Issued

2/8/2016 Notice Issued
8/1/2016 Permit Revoked
9/23/2016 Summary Report
T032564
Application | Supplement Form | Maps |Photos | Attachment
Scott Valley Irrigation District Siskiyou
1/13/2016 Application Received
1/15/2016 Permit Issued
1/21/2016 Notice Issued
7/13/2016 Permit Revoked

9/30/2016 Summary Report
12/01/2016 Revised Summary

Considering applying for a Temporary Permit for Recharge using Flood Flows?

Visit our Tips and information webpage to learn about the application process and fees for these types of projects.




Application for Permit or Temporary Permit


State Water Board Policy for Groundwater Recharge Projects Requiring an Appropriative Right

The State Water Board does not intend to use specific applications for a new or amended permit, or a temporary permit, for recharge projects to address concerns regarding public trust, public interest, etc. where those concerns are based on existing conditions and not on adverse changes that would result from the activities that would result from issuance of the new or amended permits.


Related Resources

Division of Water Rights – More information regarding the water rights application, permitting, and licensing process

Division of Drinking Water – Information regarding groundwater replenishment using recycled water

Department of Water Resources – Information regarding recycled water (reclamation or reuse)