Cannabis Cultivation Water Rights
Welcome to the Water Boards Cannabis Cultivation Program’s Water Rights Registration homepage. This page provides an explanation of the various water rights available to cannabis cultivators. Although water rights can be complicated, the Division of Water Rights’ Registrations Unit is available via phone or email to guide you through the registration process. Visit the Cannabis Cultivation Program Application Portal to get started on your application. If you already have a water right, use the Online Cannabis Compliance Gage Mapping Tool to check your daily surface water diversion status.
All cannabis cultivators that plan to divert surface water need a water right to irrigate cannabis. The Cannabis Policy prohibits cannabis cultivators from diverting surface water during the dry season forbearance period, from April 1 through October 31 of each calendar year. This means that water used for cannabis cultivation activities must be diverted to off-stream storage during the wet season to be used during the dry season.
Example of off-stream storage
3,500-gallon plastic tanks
The Cannabis SIUR is a streamlined option to obtain a small appropriative water right (less than 6.6 acre-feet per year) to divert and store surface water for commercial cannabis. Cannabis SIURs cannot be issued on Wild and Scenic rivers and streams, on fully appropriated streams, or within a CDFW Instream Flow Study area. There is an initial registration fee that is required to obtain your registration and annual fees required to maintain the right. Please refer to the water right fees webpage for the current fee schedule.
The Cannabis SIUR requires compliance with the Cannabis Cultivation Policy and additional general terms and conditions. On July 14, 2020, the Deputy Director for the Division of Water Rights approved a Resolution Revising General Conditions to be Applied to Small Irrigation Use Registrations for Cannabis Cultivation that established updated general conditions for the Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registration. This policy ensures that the diversion of water and discharge of waste for cannabis cultivation does not negatively impact water quality, aquatic habitat, riparian habitat, wetlands, and springs.
Permit or License
A water right permit is an authorization to divert water and develop a project. Once the project development is complete, the Division of Water Rights determines whether a water right license can be issued. A water right license is the final confirmation of the water right and remains effective as long as its conditions are fulfilled, and water continues to be reasonably and beneficially used. A water right permit or license for an appropriative water right may be acceptable for cannabis cultivation if it: (1) includes irrigation as a purpose of use; and (2) provides for adequate storage of water to irrigate during the forbearance period. To find out if you currently hold a water right, search the State Water Board’s eWRIMS database. For more information regarding permits and licenses, please visit the Permitting and Licensing Program webpage.
Small Domestic Use Registration
Small Domestic Use Registration water rights are available for domestic use of water in a home or dwelling, and other related incidental uses. Cannabis cultivators that have both a personal residence and a cannabis crop on their land may require both a Cannabis SIUR as well as a Small Domestic Use Registration. Water diverted under a Small Domestic Use Registration can be used for the following purposes: Domestic, Aesthetic, Fire Protection, Recreational, and/or Fish and Wildlife Preservation and Enhancement. Small Domestic Use Registrations do not allow for commercial cannabis irrigation.
Please visit the Registrations webpage further information about the Water Right Registrations programs.
The Cannabis Cultivation Policy allows cannabis cultivators to request an exemption from the need for a Cannabis SIUR if the spring used for cannabis cultivation activities meets certain conditions. A fully contained spring does not flow off of a person’s property in the absence of diversion, including wet years, or after periods of heavy rain. Please visit the fully contained springs webpage for more information.
To obtain a California Department of Food and Agriculture Cannabis Cultivation (CalCannabis) License, you must provide documentation of your water supply source(s) with your cultivation license application. This could include a Cannabis SIUR Registration Certificate or proof of an existing appropriative water right. Certain water diversion types require completion and submittal of special forms to the Water Boards.
- If your source is a groundwater well in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino or Ventura Counties that extracts more than 25 acre-feet in a year and a notice is on file with the State Water Board for the recordation of groundwater extractions and diversion then Form 26060 must be on file with the Division of Water Rights .
- If your diversion is regulated by a Watermaster appointed by the Department of Water Resources and included in annual reports filed with a court or the State Water Board by a Watermaster, then Form 26060 must be on file with the Division of Water Rights. The annual reports must identify the persons who divert water and describe the general purposes and the place, the use, and the quantity of water that has been diverted from each source.
- If your diversion is included in annual reports filed with the court or State Water Board by a Watermaster appointed by a court or filed pursuant to statute to administer a final judgment determining rights to water, then Form 26060 must be on file with the Division of Water Rights. The reports must identify the persons who have diverted water and give the general place of use and the quantity that has been diverted from each source.
If you are unsure of your water source category, or need further assistance, please contact the Cannabis Registration Unit.
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For assistance with the Portal or questions about cannabis cultivation water rights, please contact us by email or phone at:
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