On August 22, the State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) held an informational meeting to answer questions and get the public up to speed on California’s new surface water diversion reporting requirements. As we previously reported, all surface water diverters will be required to report their diversions annually instead of every three years, as previously required.

Below are three things you need to know about the new requirements:

  1. The requirements will be phased in depending on how much you divert.

The measurement requirements of the regulation apply to all water right holders who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year and will be phased in between January 2017 and January 2018. Large diverters with a right to take 1,000 acre-feet of water or more per year must have a measuring device in place by January 1, 2017, while those with rights for 100 to 1,000 acre-feet have until July 1, 2017 and those with rights to take 10 to 100 acre-feet must comply by January 1, 2018.

  1. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines.

While failure to comply with the new regulations could bring fines of up to $500 per day, the State Water Board’s emphasis will be on achieving compliance and not generating revenue through the collection of fines, according to Michael George, the watermaster for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region.

  1. You are not required to purchase a measuring device if you get approval for another measuring method.

Purchasing new equipment will be a financial hardship for many, especially small farming operations. For this reason, financial assistance is available and diverters may propose a measurement method, in lieu of a measuring device, to comply with measurement and accuracy requirements under the regulation.

The new requirements are intended to improve water right administration and transparency of diversion records. Holders of water rights should become familiar with the new requirements and begin to prepare now.  For more information about the new requirements you may contact the authors of this post.