New Water Rights Reporting Draws Concern
Property owners who divert water from a California river or stream must now file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use with the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), as part of Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), passed by the legislature in late 2009. This law applies to pre-1914 and riparian water rights holders.
The law has been on the books since the 1960’s, but SB 8 assesses new fines and penalties for non-compliance. As part of the bill, the law now appropriates $3.75 million to the SWRCB to hire 25 new staff members to enforce the reporting and monitoring regulation. The reports were to be filed by water diverters before July 1, 2010.
Many farmers and ranchers in the valley who are riparian water rights users have never reported or even measured their water use causing great concern for those property owners. The enforcement of this law is the states attempt to measure all water use throughout the Central Valley.
The new statement is to include each point of diversion and also the amount of water diverted from each point for every month in 2009. Upon arrival, the statements are reviewed and assigned Statement Numbers along with an electronic password for continued reporting. New statements are to be filed every 3 years before July 1st of that year.
The SWRCB is also to be notified of a change of name or address of the party diverting the water through the Supplemental Statement or a Notice of Assignment form. Furthermore, changes in diversion location or new diversions require additional statements.
The fines included an initial penalty of $1,000 for failure to file with a $500 per day fine after the 30-day correction period. Accidental Misstatements (including those caused by a broken measuring device) will incur a $250 penalty, with a $250 penalty per day after the 60-day correction period. The largest and most serious fine is for Willful Misstatements (including those caused by tampering a water measuring device). Such a penalty would cost the diverter $25,000 and $1,000 per day after the 30-day correction penalty.■
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