Statutory Adjudication of Water Rights in the Fresno River Watershed

On October 20, 2020, the State Water Board granted a petition by the Madera Irrigation District for the statutory adjudication of the Fresno River, directing State Water Board staff to proceed with the determination of the rights of the various claimants to the water of the Fresno River stream system. Parties in the lower Fresno River had previously been given time to negotiate an alternative agreement to resolve the issues outlined in the petition following its submission to the Board in October 2018.

A statutory adjudication is a proceeding by which the rights to water in a stream system are determined through a State Water Board proceeding and court decree. California Water Code sections 2500-2868 and California Code of Regulations Title 23, sections 945-951 describe the State Water Board’s process in conducting a statutory adjudication. Previous statutory adjudications conducted by the Board are listed on the Division’s Water Rights Judgments and Determinations page.

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April 2021 Board Meeting

At an April 6, 2021 State Water Board meeting, staff provided a status update on the adjudication process and a summary of potential interim solutions to conflicts in the Fresno River watershed while the adjudication is ongoing.

October 2020 Board Meeting

The State Water Board considered Madera Irrigation District’s petition for statutory adjudication of the Fresno River at the October 20, 2020 Board Meeting and passed a resolution granting the petition and initiating statutory adjudication proceedings.

2019-2020 Negotiation Facilitation

State Water Board Resolution No. 2019-0049 granted Fresno River parties eight additional months to negotiate an agreement to resolve conflicts over the diversion and use of water in the basin. This deadline was later extended by another five months. Following the issuance of a Final Report on the Mediation, State Water Board staff held two calls with Fresno River parties to provide them an update on the Board’s further plans related to the petition.

2019-2020 Lower Fresno River Preliminary Desktop Investigation

In December 2019 the Division of Water Rights completed a preliminary desktop investigation of water rights and potential claims to the mainstem of the Fresno River from Hidden Dam to the confluence with the San Joaquin River (Lower Fresno River). This investigation compiled publicly available information to aid parties in their negotiations and does NOT represent a determination of water rights or supporting facts. The investigation results were later published in the interactive Fresno River Investigation Geodatabase.

As part of Fresno River party negotiations, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) released an Instream Flow Criteria Report for the Fresno RiverMore information is available on CDFW’s Functional Flows website.

September 2019 Board Meeting

The Board considered the Madera Irrigation District’s petition for statutory adjudication at the September 17, 2019 Board Meeting and adopted a resolution leaving the petition pending and giving Fresno River parties time to negotiate an alternative agreement.

October 2018 Petition for Statutory Adjudication

In 2018 the Division of Water Rights received a petition from the Madera Irrigation District seeking to initiate a statutory adjudication of the water rights to the Fresno River and its tributaries. The petition requested that the State Water Board use its existing authorities to resolve ongoing conflicts over water rights, use, and allocations within the Fresno River watershed.