Code Section Group

Water Code - WAT

DIVISION 2. WATER [1000 - 5976]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1943, Ch. 368. )

  ( Part 5 added by Stats. 1955, Ch. 1869. )


The Legislature finds and declares that by reason of the combination of light rainfall, concentrated population, the transition of considerable areas of land from agricultural use to urban use, and a similar dependence on ground water supplies which prevails in the Counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Ventura, together with the fact that most such underground water supplies are overdrawn, it is necessary that the provisions of this part apply to said counties only.

(Amended by Stats. 1959, Ch. 526.)


As used in this Part 5, the following terms shall have the respective meanings stated below, viz:

(a) “Ground water” means water beneath the surface of the ground whether or not flowing through known and definite channels.

(b) “Surface water” means water on the surface of the ground.

(c) “Four counties” means the Counties of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Ventura.

(d) “Person” means all persons whether natural or artificial, including the United States of America, the State of California, and all political subdivisions, districts, municipalities and public agencies of or in either the State or the United States.

(e) “Sources” means any point of diversion or extraction of water and includes among other things wells, tunnels, and headworks.

(Amended by Stats. 1959, Ch. 526.)


(a) Except as provided in subdivision (c), each person who, after 1955, extracts ground water in excess of 25 acre-feet in any year shall file with the board a “Notice of Extraction and Diversion of Water” (hereinafter called “notice”) in the form provided in Section 5002, as provided in subdivision (b).

(b) (1) For extractions after December 31, 1955, and before January 1, 2021, the notice shall be filed before March 1 of the year after the extraction.

(2) For extractions after December 31, 2020, and before October 1, 2021, the notice shall be filed before February 1, 2022.

(3) For extractions after September 30, 2021, the notice shall include extractions during the one-year period from October 1 of each year through September 30, inclusive, of the following year, and shall be filed before February 1 of the year after that one-year period.

(c) No notice need be filed with respect to, and there shall not be required to be included in a notice, any of the following:

(1) Information concerning the extraction or diversion of water from a source from which less than 10 acre-feet has been taken during the year.

(2) Information concerning a taking or diversion of surface water for the purpose of generating electrical energy and other nonconsumptive uses, and for incidental uses in connection with that taking or diversion.

(3) Information concerning extractions or diversions of water that are included in annual reports filed with a court or the board by a watermaster appointed by a court or pursuant to statute to administer a final judgment determining rights to water, which reports identify the persons who have extracted or diverted water and give the general place of use and the quantity of water that has been extracted or diverted from each source.

(Amended by Stats. 2021, Ch. 258, Sec. 43. (SB 155) Effective September 23, 2021.)


Each notice shall be on a form provided by the board. The first notice filed by any person shall state:

(a) The name of the person extracting ground water or diverting surface water.

(b) The quantity of water taken and the method of measurement used by such person or his predecessor in interest in each preceding year from each surface or ground water source; provided, that if the period of such taking exceeds 10 years, such person is not required to state such quantities for any period greater than the preceding 10 calendar years.

(c) The location (sufficient for identification) of each surface or ground water source through or by means of which water has been taken, and if any person or persons other than the person filing said notice claims any interest in such source or the right to extract water therefrom, the name or names, so far as known, of such other person or persons.

(d) A general description of the area in which such water has been used.

(e) Any other facts which the board may require by general regulation and which tend to prove the facts required by this section to be stated, the origin of water supplying any ground water source mentioned in the notice, water levels in any such source, or the extent of any ground water basin from which such water is withdrawn.

(f) Any person diverting only surface water and not more than 25 acre-feet of ground water in any year need not file such notice for such year.

Notices, other than the first notice filed, shall state, in addition to the name of the person extracting or diverting such water:

First: The quantity of water taken from each surface and ground water source from which such person received any water in the preceding calendar year.

Second: Location of each such surface and ground water source through or by means of which water has been taken in such preceding year. This may be stated, so far as applicable, by reference to the water sources described in the original notice.

Third: If such person diverts surface water in excess of three miner’s inches, such person shall further state in said notice the period or periods of such diversion, and the maximum and minimum flows so diverted in each period.

Fourth: Any other facts which the board may require by general regulation, and which tend to prove facts required by this subdivision to be stated, the origin of water supplying any surface or ground water source mentioned in the notice, water levels or flow in any such source, or the extent or origin of the water source supplying the ground water supply from which such water is extracted.

(Amended by Stats. 1957, Ch. 1932.)


No prescriptive right that might otherwise accrue to extract ground water shall arise or accrue to, nor shall any statute of limitations operate in regard to the ground water in the four counties after the year 1956 in favor of any person required to file a notice of extraction and diversion of water, until that person files with the board the first “Notice of Extraction and Diversion of Water” substantially in the form mentioned in Section 5002. As to each person who fails to file that notice by the end of the year in 1957, it shall be deemed for the period from that time until the first notice of the person is filed, that no claim of right to the extraction of ground water from any source in the four counties has been made by the person, and that water extracted by the person from the ground water source during that period has not been devoted to or used for any beneficial use. The beneficial use of water from any ground water source within the four counties in any year by the person shall be deemed not to exceed the quantity reported in the notice filed for that year.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 538, Sec. 669. Effective January 1, 2007.)


After the year 1959, failure to file with the board a notice for any calendar year within six months after the close of such calendar year shall be deemed equivalent for all purposes to nonuse for such year of any ground water within the four counties by each person failing to so file a notice within said period; provided, that this section and Section 5003 shall not apply to any person whose aggregate extractions of ground water in any year does not exceed 25 acre-feet nor to any extractions of ground water with respect to which no notice is required to be filed under this part.

(Amended by Stats. 1959, Ch. 526.)


Except as specified in Section 5004, failure to file the notice or delay in filing the same shall not cause the loss of rights to ground water which existed on January 1, 1956.

(Added by Stats. 1955, Ch. 1869.)


Each notice shall be sworn to and shall be accompanied by a filing fee which shall be fixed by the board pursuant to Section 1529.

(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 741, Sec. 90. Effective January 1, 2004.)


Any person may apply to the board to investigate the facts stated in any specified notice so filed and to state in writing its determination of the facts found by it upon such investigation. The cost of such investigation and determination shall be paid by such applicant by such deposits or in such payments as may be fixed by the board. In the event the board makes a determination which differs in any material respect from the facts contained in the notice, then, prior to making its final determination, the board shall notify both the person filing said notice and the person requesting a determination of facts of its proposed findings, and shall invite either party to submit further information prior to making its final determination, and no such final determination shall be made until sixty (60) days after the parties have been so notified of the board’s proposed determination.

In any action or proceeding hereafter pending in which the facts, or any of them, contained in the notices so filed are material, such notices shall not be evidence of any fact stated therein, but such determination by the board shall be prima facie evidence of said facts.

(Amended by Stats. 1957, Ch. 1932.)


The making of any willful misstatement in any notice shall be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not to exceed six months, or both.

(Amended by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1092, Sec. 408. Effective September 27, 1983. Operative January 1, 1984, by Sec. 427 of Ch. 1092.)


(a) (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, on and after January 1, 2005, each person who extracts groundwater in a board-designated local area, and who is otherwise subject to this part, shall file the required notice with the appropriate local agency designated pursuant to subdivision (e), instead of the board, in accordance with this part. The notice shall be on a form provided by the local agency and the content of the form shall be determined by the local agency in accordance with Section 5002. To the extent possible, the form shall consolidate the notice required under this section with other reports required by the local agency relating to the extraction of groundwater.

(2) A person who is subject to this section is subject to this part in the same manner and to the same extent as a person who files his or her notice with the board.

(b) Each notice filed with the local agency may include a filing fee determined by the local agency. If the local agency chooses to impose a filing fee, the local agency shall calculate the amount of the fee to pay for administrative expenses incurred in connection with the processing, compiling, and retaining of the notices, but in no event shall the fee amount exceed that amount charged by the board pursuant to Section 5006.

(c) The local agency shall make available to governmental agencies the information collected pursuant to this section.

(d) For the purposes of this section:

(1) “Board-designated local area” means the area entirely within the jurisdiction of the local agency that the board has determined shall be subject to this section, and any area for which the local agency has formally agreed to accept the required notice.

(2) “Local agency” means the local public agency or court appointed watermaster that has been designated by the board in accordance with subdivision (e).

(e) The board shall designate an entity as a local agency for the purposes of this section, if the board determines that all of the following apply:

(1) The entity has volunteered to be designated.

(2) The entity has responsibilities relating to the extraction or use of groundwater.

(3) The entity has made satisfactory arrangements with the board to identify which groundwater extractors are within the designated local area and to avoid the submission of notices to both the board and one or more local agencies.

(4) The entity has made satisfactory arrangements with the board to maintain records filed under this part for extractions within the designated local area, and to make those records available to governmental agencies.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 374, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2007.)

WATWater Code - WAT