Water Rights and Permitting
Photo by Connor Kuhn
Water is one of the most vital components of agricultural production. A water right on a property is a legal entitlement authorizing water to be diverted from a specified source and put to a beneficial, non-wasteful use. While water rights are property rights, holders of the water rights do not own the water itself; they only posses the right to use it. The use of some water rights requires a permit or license from the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board).
The State Water Board’s objective, in addition to protecting the water quality of the waters of the State, is to ensure that the State’s waters are put to the best possible use and that public interest is served. Licensing and permitting are not the only duties of the State Water Board. The State Water Board also adjudicates water for entire systems, acts as a “referee,” and fact-finds for court cases which involve water rights.