State Water Board Drought Year Water Actions
In 2013, California precipitation was the lowest on record for the calendar year. In the event substantial rainfall does not materialize in the next few months, this webpage was developed to provide water users with important information about actions taken by the State Water Board, including actions related to existing water rights.
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2014 Drought Year Activities and Useful Information
Drought Year Activities
Other Useful Information
Residential, business and agriculture are urged to actively conserve and report waste and unreasonable use of water. You can report waste and unreasonable use of water as well as potential illegal diversions through the Cal/EPA complaint portal. In addition, please follow any water conservation and use restrictions suggested by your local water provider and, in the case of water right holders, abide by any notices the State Water Board issues.
- General Water Conservation Tips
- Information on Water Use Efficiency
- Agricultural Water Use Efficiency
The State Water Board regulates temporary and long-term water transfers of post-1914 appropriative water rights from individuals, water districts and water agencies to South-of Delta purchasers. It also regulates transfers among parties within local watersheds. About 95 percent of water transfers are either transfers of water between State Water Project (SWP) contractors, or transfers of water between federal Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors. This type of water transfer does not require State Water Board approval except if the point of diversion, purpose of use, or place of use under the CVP's or SWP's water rights need to be changed to accomplish the transfer. However, for a CVP contractor to transfer water to a SWP contractor outside the CVP service area (or vice-versa), the transferring water right holder (either the US Bureau of Reclamation or the Department of Water Resources) must petition the State Water Board for a change in the water rights for either a short-term transfer or a long-term transfer. Short-term transfers on average, take about 60 days to process. The majority of that time is driven by a statutory requirement to provide notice to parties that may be injured by the proposed transfer, an opportunity to protest the action.
Water Transfers Executive Order: On May 20, Governor Brown issued Executive Order B-21-13 to streamline approvals for voluntary water transfers to assist California’s agricultural industry. Pursuant to Order B-21-13, the State Water Board is required to expedite the review and processing of voluntary transfers of water and water rights consistent with current law. Transfers of water under WC 1725, et seq. require a 30-day public notice period. If no comments are received during public notice of the petitions, the State Water Board must issue a decision on the petitions within 45 days from the date the petitions were received. If comments are received during the notice period, or for any other good cause, the State Water Board may extend the date of its decision for up to 20 days. Division of Water Rights staff is currently expediting the processing of the transfers consistent with the requirements and deadlines in the Water Code and as required by the Governor’s Executive Order. Below is a link to existing, ongoing water transfers that is updated regularly:
- Informational Sheet: Requesting Temporary Transfer
- 2014 Water Transfers
- 2013 Water Transfers
- Water Transfer Petitions (Pending Prior to Notice/Order)
- Water Transfer Orders
Water rights permits and licenses contain terms and conditions that the holder must comply with when exercising the right. These terms and conditions are specific to the water body and can cover many requirements including, but not limited to, the amount of flow that must be available in the stream system, the timing and release of flows from surface storage, and the temperature of the water. The State Water Board can use its existing authorities to prevent waste and unreasonable use of water and to protect public trust resources to modify the conditions of water rights other than the Delta, so long as the conditions do not implement a Water Quality Control Plan. In December 2013, the State Water Board began receiving requests to temporarily modify a permit or license term or condition as an urgency change under the Water Code. These requests and their status can be viewed in the attached link which is updated regularly:
- How to Request a Temporary Urgency Change
- Petitions for Change or Temporary Urgency Change (Pending, Noticed, and Completed)
- Temporary Urgency Change Orders
- State and Federal Water Project Temporary Urgency Change Petition Project Page
The right to divert surface water in California is based on the type of right being claimed and the priority date. Water right permits specify the season of use, purpose of use and place of use for the quantity of water authorized under the permit or license. In times of drought and limited supply, the most recent (“junior”) right holder must be the first to discontinue use. In times of severe shortages, even senior water right holders must share in their responsibility to reduce diversions and conserve water. In the coming weeks and months, if dry weather conditions persist, the State Water Board will notify certain water right holders in critically dry watersheds of the requirement to stop diverting water under their water right, based on their priority. These notices will be posted below. Even more senior water right holders, such as some riparian and pre-1914 water right holders may also receive a notice to stop diverting water if their diversions are downstream of reservoirs releasing stored water and there is no natural flow available for diversion.
A Riparian water right entitles the landowner to use a share of the water flowing past their property. While riparian rights require no permits or licenses, they apply only to the water that would naturally flow in the stream and they do not allow the user to divert water for storage or use it on land outside its watershed.
- Fact Sheet – Water Rights Holders Likely to Face Curtailment in 2014
- January 22, 2014 – Scott River Potential Curtailment
- January 17, 2014 – Statewide Notice of Potential Future Curtailment
- Delta Watermaster Term 91
- Department of Water Resources Drought Webpage
- DWR Drought Year Water Transfers Checklist
- Tips for Water Conservation
- Water Supplier Authority to impose Water Conservation and/or Rationing
- Division of Water Rights Transfer Information
- Prior Drought Orders and Waste & Unreasonable Use Actions
- National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) U.S. Drought Portal with slide presentations from February 20, 2014 California Drought Outlook Forum
- Drought Year Hotline (916) 341-5300