Standard Change Petition

This section describes the Water Rights standard change petition process. If a right holder determines that they wish to change the conditions of their permit or license, they generally must petition for approval by the Division of Water Rights. Parties must also file petitions to modify the project requested in their application.

Typical types of changes to a permit or license include:

  • Point of Diversion
  • Purpose of Use
  • Place of Use
  • Other Changes to the Terms or Conditions of the Water Right

  Standard Change Information

Processing steps for changing water rights

To change their water right, a right holder must follow these steps:

  • Review Program Criteria and Limitations. The prospective petitioner reviews the information about the program to determine if the petition is appropriate. A call to the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights at (916) 341-5300 may be helpful.
  • Submit a Petition. The process is initiated when a change petition is filed by the right holder. This petition specifically describes the proposed changes to the project. The petitioner must provide a copy of the complete petition package to, and request consultation with, both the Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Coupling a Standard Change Petition with Another Petition. A party may file multiple petitions for the same water right. For example, a party may file both an Instream Flow Petition with a Standard Change Petition. This is done if the party wants to make a permanent change to the water right to reflect an instream flow dedication. Another example is when a party files a time extension and also asks to modify other parts of the water right, such as the place of use or the location where water is diverted.
  • Review of the Petition Form. The Board notifies the petitioner shortly after receipt (typically within 30 days) if the petition is incomplete.
  • Environmental Review. Consideration of environmental effects is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before a change petition can be approved. The Board examines the proposed project's potential environmental impacts and determines whether mitigation measures will be needed. The State Water Board also has an obligation that is independent of CEQA to consider the effect of the proposed project on public trust resources and to protect those resources where feasible.
  • Public Notice and Protest Resolution. If appropriate, the State Water Board publishes a notice of the right holder's intent to change their project and invites comment. Any interested person may file a protest to the petition. Copies of any protests are given to the right holder who is required to respond. It is the responsibility of the petitioner and any protestant(s) to make a good faith effort to resolve the protest(s). If both parties can agree to mutually acceptable conditions, the protest is resolved at this point in the process. In the event it is not resolved for small projects, the issue may be addressed through a field investigation by the State Water Board's Division of Water Rights. Protests to large projects are addressed through a hearing held before one or more members of the State Water Board. The State Water Board's decision on the petition and any protests is based upon the record created during the hearing.
  • Hydrologic Analysis. Before granting a change petition, the State Board evaluates if the change could result in a decrease in stream flow. If analysis is needed, it is typically performed by an engineering consultant retained by the applicant. Occasionally, the applicant or Board staff may perform the analysis.
  • Compliance with Applicable Policies. Projects located in certain geographic areas are required to comply with applicable State Board Policies relevant to processing of a water right change petition. The Policy for Maintaining Instream Flows in Northern California Coastal Streams applies to projects located in Marin, Sonoma, and portions of Napa, Mendocino, and Humboldt Counties. Petitions for projects in this area may be subject to special requirements such as hydrologic analysis and when adding an onstream dam.
  • Revised Permit or License Issuance. State Water Board findings are required before a petition can be issued including:
    • Change does not initiate a new water right,
    • Change can be made without injuring other legal users of water including the environment, and
    • The petition is in the public interest, a concept that is an overriding concern in all State Water Board decisions.
    • The revised water right is then issued if the State Water Board determines that the proposed change meets these criteria. If it determines otherwise, conditions may be imposed to ensure the criteria are satisfied or the petition may be denied.

  Submit your application to file a Standard Petition for Change.

  Standard Change Petition Notices and Orders

Below you will find a table containing the Standard Change Petition Notices and Orders.

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Application ID Water Right Holder Change Type Notice
(yyyy/mm/dd)
Protest Deadline
(yyyy/mm/dd)
Order
(yyyy/mm/dd)
           

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Water Rights General Phone Line: (916) 341-5300