hear a lot about water transfers, I have some extra water. How do
I get in on this?
What is the basis of your water right? If through a water district
work with them, if an individual water right, appropriative or
riparian, read on. Department of Water Resources (DWR), as part
of the Environmental Water Account (EWA) and State Dry Year Program,
is always looking for water transfer partners, especially in drier
years, Contact: Dean Reynolds.
United States Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) buys water supply for
Wildlife Refuges. Ecosystem Restoration Program's Environmental
Water Acquisition Program is looking for instream flows for specific
streams, Contact: Dan Mayer.
At times you may also be contacted by other parties wishing to
purchase water. If you would like to be included on a list of
willing sellers now or in the future, email Dean
Reynolds or call him at 916-651-7055 and he will put your
name on our list for future reference.
I own my water right?
In California you have a right to use water, you don't own water
do a car or other piece of property. You can only transfer water
if it does
not injure any legal user of water, generally referred to as the
rule". In water short California, water you don't use and
your return flows
are used by others downstream. Transferring water in such a way
make that water unavailable to those users who have used your
water or return flows often leads to injury of those downstream
Your transfer needs to be structured in such a way as to avoid
|Can I transfer
water under my right even though I don't normally use it?
Transfer of the unused portion of a water right is generally not
Water transfers are premised on providing water to the overall
water system that would not have been available absent the water
Water rights are ultimately defined by the amount of water that
and put to reasonable and beneficial use. The unused portion of
right has not been put to reasonable and beneficial use and has
the overall water system, therefore the unused portion of a water
typically not transferable.
I transfer water under my riparian water right?
Generally not for consumptive use purposes. Water users with
water right may transfer water for "instream" use as
California Water Code 1707; the code permits "change of purpose"
environmental and recreational uses. Riparian right holders can
water to meet or augment instream flows (see EWA above).
In extremely dry years a riparian rights holder may be paid not
their water to be procured by another water user downstream. These
of transfers carry high risk to the water purchasers and are only
during times of exceptional water needs.
are you looking for in a water transfer proposal?
Analysis of a water transfer proposal ultimately has the goal
determining if the water transfer will put additional water into
water system that would not be there absent the water transfer.
part of this determination depends on findings regarding "conditions
absent the water transfer" as stated below. Other issues
may also arise
during this stage of a water transfer evaluation e.g., if one
use of water will another user take and use that water before
it reaches the
larger system? Other types of losses along the water's path may
conditions would exist "absent the water transfer"?
One of the first appraisals of any water transfer proposal is
of "what would have occurred absent the water transfer".
How would the
water have been used if the seller were not participating in a
transfer? The answer to this question aids in establishing a base
which the benefits of a water transfer are calculated.
Water Can I Transfer?
Typical methods to make water available for transfer: Water transfers
normally based on one of two methods, reduction of consumptive
reduction in surface water diversions with an increase in groundwater
(groundwater substitution). A third type of water transfer is
release but is usually available only to water districts with
facilities. Groundwater substitution coupled with surface water
creates a highly flexible water transfer solution.
is Consumptive Use?
Consumptive use, for water transfer purposes, is defined as the
amount of irrigation water used by the plant and evaporated from
plant leaves and the surrounding soil surface. Reduction of consumptive
use is typically accomplished by reducing the amount of cropland
that is irrigated by the water user. In some instances, shifting
to lower water using crops produces transferable water. For individual
growers to receive benefit from a program that lowers consumptive
use calls for documentation of past cropping patterns. These records
must cover all lands under the water users control; it is not
appropriate to lower water use in one area while increasing water
use in another. Ordinarily crop histories for the preceding five
(5) years are needed. For More Detail see: CROP
is water made available "on pattern"?
Water made available from reductions of consumptive use is credited
when crops would have been actually using the water had the crops
planted. The total amount of irrigation water a plant uses over
of the growing season is credited monthly based on the percentage
irrigation water use for that month. This concept is especially
when the participant supplying water is upstream of the Sacramento/San
Joaquin Delta and the buyer is downstream of the Delta. Water
available at a time when the State or Federal water projects cannot
additional water from the Delta is not credited to the buyer and
The inability of the Projects to move water across the Delta in
wet year hydrology can be a substantial obstacle for upstream
transfers to areas downstream and west of the Delta.
is a Groundwater Substitution transfer?
Groundwater substitution is a program that substitutes groundwater
to irrigate crops that would otherwise have been irrigated using
surface water. Wells used in groundwater substitution programs
are reviewed for certain criteria to assess the risk of a direct
connection between the aquifer and the surface water system. Records
establishing base groundwater pumping are also needed. Since groundwater
program payments are based on the amount of water pumped an accurate
meter is needed on each producing well. Additionally a groundwater
monitoring and rapid response plan is needed to detect and prevent
injury to other legal water users resulting from additional groundwater
pumping for the water transfer. Groundwater substitution transfers
may be limited by local ordinance or groundwater management plans.
For More Detail see: GROUNDWATER
much water do I need to have available for transfer?
Larger amounts of water receive a higher priority by water purchasers
small amounts. The amount of work involved in contracting for
amount of water versus a large amount of water is virtually the
Thus, larger transfers are often considered first. We encourage
to work with water districts or groups of willing sellers if possible.
are Fish and Wildlife Concerns?
Consider how your proposed water transfer may effect fish and
A water transfer may not have "unreasonable effects"
on fish and wildlife.
Water transfers have the potential to alter stream flows, return
ditch water levels to mention a few. Animals that are listed in
Endangered Species Act or the California Endangered Species Act
call for some special consideration. For example, in areas where
Garter Snakes live impacts can be lessened by not idling large
parcels of land, maintaining water levels in irrigation ditches
and managing how ditch maintenance is performed. Designing an
environmentally friendly water transfer can usually be accomplished
minor modifications to farm operations.
are Economic Issues?
When planning a crop idling water transfer program be mindful
neighbors and business partners. Idling programs may lessen the
of seed and other inputs to maintain crops as well as reduce labor.
of past water transfers and experience has shown that proceeds
sales are often reinvested in the land, consequently other businesses
labor sectors may benefit. Indications are that limiting the amount
idled to 20% or less of normally farmed crop land minimizes the
effects of land idling programs.
about compliance with environmental and other regulations?
Transfer of water is subject to various regulations and environmental
such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the California Water Code.
transfer water you may have to petition the State Water Resources
Board. What is needed depends on the specifics of each water transfer
proposal and may be covered by documentation that has been done
various agency programs.
do I get started? Who do I contact?
|| Email: I
HAVE WATER or call Dean Reynolds at 916-651-7055.