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Protect Your Water Rights

Groundwater Diversion First Notice.pdf | Instructions for First Notice.pdf | Recordation of Water Extractions.pdf

Landowners who extract at least 25 acre-feet of groundwater from wells in the counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Ventura those areas must file notices of groundwater extraction by June 30 each year with the State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Water Rights.

Failure to file a notice is deemed the equivalent of non-use of water for that year and could result in the loss of water rights (reference California Water Code section 5004).

Well owners in the four counties who have not previously filed groundwater extraction notices will need to file a "First Notice of Groundwater Extractions" for each well

Information provided by Michelle Staples 060200

Groundwater users who pump less than the 25-acre-feet threshold can also file notices. While the filing is required under law, the only penalty is the risk of losing a water right. The filing is a way for groundwater users to establish proof of historic water use to preserve water rights. If you are a groundwater user but choose not to file a notice of groundwater extraction, you should maintain written records with substantiating evidence to document your water use, such as saving electric bills, records of cropping patterns and so on.

The June 30 deadline applies for the annual report, for groundwater users who have previously filed reports. A first notice of groundwater extraction can be filed at any time.

If you haven't filed before, you can print out the Groundwater Diversion First Notice form here. You can read the Instructions for First Notice and the State Water Resources Control Board information booklet, Recordation of Water Extractions.

These Files are in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format, which you can view or print with Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't already have Reader, you can download it for free from www.Adobe.com

You can also obtain the Groundwater Diversion First Notice direct from the State Water Resources Control Board by contacting Koso Nodohara at 916/657-1872.

The relevant sections of state law include:

SECTION 4999-5008

4999. The Legislature finds and declares that by reason of the combination of light rainfall, concentrated population, the transition of considerable areas of land from agricultural use to urban use, and a similar dependence on ground water supplies which prevails in the Counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Ventura, together with the fact that most such underground water supplies are overdrawn, it is necessary that the provisions of this part apply to said counties only.

5000. As used in this Part 5, the following terms shall have the respective meanings stated below, viz:
(a) "Ground water" means water beneath the surface of the ground whether or not flowing through known and definite channels.
(b) "Surface water" means water on the surface of the ground.
(c) "Four counties" means the Counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Ventura.
(d) "Person" means all persons whether natural or artificial, including the United States of America, the State of California, and all political subdivisions, districts, municipalities and public agencies of or in either the State or the United States.
(e) "Sources" means any point of diversion or extraction of water and includes among other things wells, tunnels, and headworks.

5001. Each person who, after 1955, extracts ground water in excess of 25 acre-feet in any year shall file with the board on or before March 1st of the succeeding year a "Notice of Extraction and Diversion of Water" (hereinafter called "notice") in the form provided in Section 5002; provided, however, that no notice need be filed with respect to, and there shall not be required to be included in any such notice, (a) information concerning the extraction or diversion of water from a source from which less than 10 acre-feet has been taken during such year, (b) information concerning a taking or diversion of surface water for the purpose of generating electrical energy and other nonconsumptive uses, and for incidental uses in connection therewith, or (c) information concerning extractions or diversions of water which are included in annual reports filed with a court or the board by a watermaster appointed by a court or pursuant to statute to administer a final judgment determining rights to water, which reports identify the persons who have extracted or diverted water and give the general place of use and the quantity of water which has been extracted or diverted from each source.

5002. Each notice shall be on a form provided by the board. The first notice filed by any person shall state:
(a) The name of the person extracting ground water or diverting surface water.
(b) The quantity of water taken and the method of measurement used by such person or his predecessor in interest in each preceding year from each surface or ground water source; provided, that if the period of such taking exceeds 10 years, such person is not required to state such quantities for any period greater than the preceding 10 calendar years.
(c) The location (sufficient for identification) of each surface or ground water source through or by means of which water has been taken, and if any person or persons other than the person filing said notice claims any interest in such source or the right to extract water therefrom, the name or names, so far as known, of such other person or persons.
(d) A general description of the area in which such water has been used.
(e) Any other facts which the board may require by general regulation and which tend to prove the facts required by this section to be stated, the origin of water supplying any ground water source mentioned in the notice, water levels in any such source, or the extent of any ground water basin from which such water is withdrawn.
(f) Any person diverting only surface water and not more than 25 acre-feet of ground water in any year need not file such notice for such year.

Notices, other than the first notice filed, shall state, in addition to the name of the person extracting or diverting such water:
First: The quantity of water taken from each surface and ground water source from which such person received any water in the preceding calendar year.
Second: Location of each such surface and ground water source through or by means of which water has been taken in such preceding year. This may be stated, so far as applicable, by reference to the water sources described in the original notice.
Third: If such person diverts surface water in excess of three miner’s inches, such person shall further state in said notice the period or periods of such diversion, and the maximum and minimum flows so diverted in each period.
Fourth: Any other facts which the board may require by general regulation, and which tend to prove facts required by this subdivision to be stated, the origin of water supplying any surface or ground water source mentioned in the notice, water levels or flow in any such source, or the extent or origin of the water source supplying the ground water supply from which such water is extracted.

5003. No prescriptive right which might otherwise accrue to extract ground water shall arise or accrue to, nor shall any statute of limitations operate in regard to such ground water in the four counties or any of them after the year 1956 in favor of any person required to file such notice of extraction and diversion of water, until such person shall file with the board the first "Notice of Extraction and Diversion of Water" substantially in the form mentioned in Section 5002; and as to each person who fails to file such notice by the end of the year 1957, it shall be deemed for the period from that time until the first notice of such person is filed, such source in the four counties has been made by such person, and that water so extracted by such person from such ground water source during such period has not been devoted to or used for any beneficial use. The beneficial use of water from any ground water source within the four counties in any year by such person shall be deemed not to exceed the quantity reported in the notice filed for such year.

5004. After the year 1959, failure to file with the board a notice for any calendar year within six months after the close of such calendar year shall be deemed equivalent for all purposes to nonuse for such year of any ground water within the four counties by each person failing to so file a notice within said period; provided, that this section and Section 5003 shall not apply to any person whose aggregate extractions of ground water in any year does not exceed 25 acre-feet nor to any extractions of ground water with respect to which no notice is required to be filed under this part.

5005. Except as specified in Section 5004, failure to file the notice or delay in filing the same shall not cause the loss of rights to ground water which existed on January 1, 1956.

5006. Each notice shall be sworn to and shall be accompanied by a filing fee which shall be fixed by the board. Such filing fees shall be fixed so as to be sufficient on the average to pay the administrative expenses of the board in listing and processing notices of the character presented, and may be graduated in accordance with the number of water sources from which extractions or diversions are shown.

5007. Any person may apply to the board to investigate the facts stated in any specified notice so filed and to state in writing its determination of the facts found by it upon such investigation. The cost of such investigation and determination shall be paid by such applicant by such deposits or in such payments as may be fixed by the board. In the event the board makes a determination which differs in any material respect from the facts contained in the notice, then, prior to making its final determination, the board shall notify both the person filing said notice and the person requesting a determination of facts of its proposed findings, and shall invite either party to submit further information prior to making its final determination, and no such final determination shall be made until sixty (60) days after the parties have been so notified of the board’ s proposed determination. In any action or proceeding hereafter pending in which the facts, or any of them, contained in the notices so filed are material, such notices shall not be evidence of any fact stated therein, but such determination by the board shall be prima facie evidence of said facts.

5008. The making of any willful misstatement in any notice shall be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed six months, or both.