What is a Small Domestic Use registration and when do I need one?
A Small Domestic Use (SDU) registration is a kind of appropriative water right. They are useful if you need to do something with water that you can’t do under a riparian right. The most common reason people get one is because they want to store water for the dry season. Other reasons could be if you are diverting water from a source on someone else’s property (with their permission), or if you are diverting from a source on your own property but want to use the water off-parcel.
How do I get an SDU Registration?
You get an SDU registration by filling out an SDU form and sending it, along with the $250 fee, to the Water Board. The form requires some detail about your property and your water use, but it is well within the ability of most landowners to complete the form, given a bit of diligence. Instructions are included along with the form itself, and additional help is available on this Frequently Asked Questions page.
After you file the SDU form, the Water Board staff may respond with questions asking for clarification or more information. Once they deem the form complete, Water Board staff will send the form to CDFW, which has the right to place conditions on the registration to protect fish and wildlife. These conditions may include a dry season forbearance period – i.e., a period during the summer when you may not divert water and must rely on storage. In many cases, CDFW will determine that with the specified conditions, your diversion does not need an LSA Agreement. This can actually be an important benefit to you, because it allows you to confirm your compliance with the LSAA requirements without having to file a separate LSAA notification form and pay the LSAA fee. In other cases, CDFW will require that you enter an LSA Agreement. For more information on that process, click here.
After CDFW places its conditions on the SDU registration, the Water Board issues the final registration document. This document is your appropriative water right. It must be renewed every five years. As part of the conditions, you will be required to report your water use to the Water Board every year.