The process of purchasing water rights for your California business can be complex. When you purchase a water right, you do not own the water, but you obtain a legal right to use it in a useful manner.
The State Water Resources Control Board issues water permits to businesses. There are two main types of water rights in California. Riparian rights allow a user to use the water if it naturally flows by their property, and a permit for a riparian right is not required. Appropriative rights allow users to divert water from another source; however, a permit is required.
The permit process
The first step in obtaining a water right for your business is to file an application. The application must contain the following information:
- How much water will be diverted and why
- The site of the water’s use
- The purpose of the water use
The Board must notify you of your application’s acceptance or rejection within 30 days. The California Environmental Quality Act requires an analysis of any environmental effects caused by your water use. If your use will be part of a major or complex project, you may be required to submit an environmental impact report to confirm your use will not negatively impact the environment.
If your application is accepted, notice of your application and intended use of the water is published, and anyone who objects to your application may comment. You are provided copies of any objections and must respond.
The Board allows you and any party lodging objections a chance to reach a resolution. If your proposed use is minor, the Board may resolve the issue by requiring you to take some additional steps, such as having an engineering field investigation report conducted. For major projects, a formal hearing before the Board will be held, with the Board ultimately deciding whether to approve your application.
If there are no objections, your permit will be issued if it is found that your appropriation is in the public interest and that water is available to accommodate your request.
The process of purchasing water rights can be daunting. It is important to provide accurate and complete information and submit any necessary documents. The advice and guidance of environmental attorney can help.