A Permit or License is required to hold Post-1914 water rights issued by the State Water Resources Control Board. An Application starts the process, then the right is permitted, and once proven, licensed. This is the engineering summary of the process, not as precise or detailed as an answer from an attorney or a bureaucrat.
Let’s take a look at a license. All of the information shown here is publicly available and it was downloaded from the Board’s website. Note that the License has 3 identification numbers, all of which are important:
Application: 18405 Permit: 13122 License: 12363
From the language in the body, it is clear that the first use of water at this location was in 1958. An Application was filed at some point, and proof of the claim was established in 1979 when the Board inspected the diversion. A Permit might have been issued at the same time in 1979 – that information is not listed here. Finally in 1988, the water right holder obtained the License.
Now to the subject of this post, on Page 2 the Place of Use is listed. The clip below shows the end of Page 1 and the start of Page 2:
The place of use is defined as 1) at the reservoir, and 2) on 357.7 acres somewhere within 3 Sections, an area totaling about 1,900 acres. The clip above also lists the point of diversion, and the purposes of use, but we’re focusing on the Place of Use right now. Let’s go look at the map.
Whoops! This License was downloaded as a PDF from the Board’s Electronic Water Rights Information Management System (eWRIMS) website at http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/ewrims/index.shtml. The thousands of downloadable permits and licenses in the database do not include the maps, as far as I have ever seen. To get that, we would have to visit the Board’s office in the CalEPA building in Sacramento.
However, there is also an eWRIMS Geographic Information System (GIS), in addition to the database. We can see the location of the diversion on either a topographic map, or on an aerial photo. Here’s what that looks like:
The pink text in the middle of the photo is where the GIS shows the diversion for this License. What is the Place of Use? That is not shown. With some other information, like who owns the surrounding parcels of land, and maybe a telephone call to the owner, manager, or representative, we could probably figure out where the Place of Use is.
However, land can change hands so the owner shown on the license may no longer be correct. Sometimes parcels get split up and one of the present-day owners pays for the permit covering the entire Place of Use. It can get complicated without seeing the original hardcopy of the map. The owner might not even have a copy of the map, especially if ownership has changed hands several times. It’s good to memorize or keep on a Post-It the number for the Board: (916) 341-5300.
That’s enough for this post. Stay tuned for upcoming posts on the Place of Use, Purpose of Use, Point of Diversion, and water right amount….
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