Salmonid Restoration Federation

Guidance on Complying with California's Water Laws

A guide for small landowners in coastal California

If you are a rural California landowner who diverts your own water from a stream, spring, or well, there are a number of regulatory requirements that may apply to you.  As water becomes more scarce in California, ensuring you are in compliance with these laws offers many important benefits, including:

• Ensuring the security of your water supply and property value
• Preserving your rights against new users
• Protecting our region’s vital fish and wildlife
• Preventing the state from taking enforcement action against you

The particular requirements that apply to you will vary depending on where you get the water from and what you are using it for.  The following pages are designed to help you determine which requirements apply, and to fill out and the necessary forms.

Most water diversions in rural California must comply with two sets of legal requirements.  These are:

Water rights law

Fish and Game Code Section 1602

In addition, if any of the water you divert is used to grow cannabis for commercial purposes, the following sets of requirements also apply:

Waste Discharge Requirements for Cannabis

Humboldt County Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (see also EPIC's 2016 Farmer's Compliance Handbook)

More information on how to comply with each of these requirements is provided at the links above.