Photo by Marlon Felippe. via Wikipedia.

Helpful resources available at

In the Emerald Triangle, our rivers are already overburdened and we may yet lose more water. A decreased water supply and increased local demands have resulted in low flowing, high temperature rivers that cannot support the recreational activities or the fish and wildlife defining our lifestyles. At the same time, because we haven’t measured the amount of water being used by all people, the unaccounted use of river waters creates a surplus of water on paper. That perceived surplus is used to justify sending local water beyond the redwood curtain.

Legalizing Water Use Gets You 3 Things

  1. Water security for your property
  2. Authorization to store winter water for summer use
  3. Justification for keeping water local rather than diverting it to other areas

The State Water Board uses the existing water rights framework to penalize illegal water diversions. Penalties include civil liabilities, a maximum fine of $1,000 plus $500 for each day the violation continues. The cost to legalize is much less by comparison, and you can get the process started at no cost.

The Legalization Process for Medical Cannabis Irrigation

Under the current regulatory framework, water diversion and use for the purposes of irrigating medical cannabis can be legalized by appropriately filing registrations to the State Water Board.

There are two types of registrations to be filed the: Initial Statement of Water Diversion and Use, and Registration of Small Domestic Use Appropriation.

1. Initial Statement of Water Diversion and Use

To become legally compliant, each person or organization that uses diverted surface water or pumped groundwater from a known subterranean stream should file an Initial Statement of Water Diversion and Use with the State Water Board. No fees required to file the Initial Statement.

What an Initial Statement DOES:

  • Provides an official record of compliance with state law
  • Requires you are notified if someone upstream applies for the right to divert water
  • Allows you to protest intended diversions that impact your supply

What an Initial Statement DOESN’T DO:

  • Establish a water right
  • Allow winter water storage

2. Registration for Small Domestic Use Appropriation

A Small Domestic Use Appropriation provides a right to divert, use and store water that is used to supply a dwelling or similar facility for the site’s associated people, animals, gardens, aesthetic, fire protection, recreation, or fish and wildlife.

Once approved, Registration provides the applicant with:

  • An appropriative water right to use and store water
  • Priority rights over water users that Register at a later date

The Division of Water Rights charges $250 every five years for Registration. To file a Registration for Small Domestic Use Appropriation fill out and file a form and renew each 5-years.

Water Diversion and Use Permitting Resources

The State Water Board Division of Water Rights can answer questions about coming into compliance with your water use activities. Call (916) 341-5310 and speak with Matt. You won’t be required to give any personal information over the phone. Additional resources are also available at to help you navigate the process and the forms.



Photo by Marlon Felippe. via Wikipedia.

Leave your thoughts