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California Change in Ownership of Water Right (19-CA-d)

Information current as of 2020
In California, a developer may purchase water rights from existing water right holders; to effect a change in ownership a developer must notify the California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). In many cases the new owner (developer) of a water right may require a change in the purpose or place of use or point of diversion of the water right after a change in ownership. In other cases where the prior right holder completed the change in place or purpose of use or point of diversion before executing a change in ownership, the developer may continue with the project.



Change in Ownership of Water Right Process


19-CA-d.1 to 19-CA-d.2 – Notice of Change of Ownership of Water Right

The developer must submit a Notice of Change of Ownership to the SWRCB in conformance with Cal. Code R. & Regs. tit. 23§831. The SWRCB will review the notice to ensure it provides the necessary information. The Notice of Change of Ownership is also used to inform the SWRCB when the owner of right needs to update their address or contact information. As part of their the review, the SWRCB will seek to verify the change of ownership by matching the name on the assessor’s parcel number at the place of use of the water right with the name of the new owner. There is a presumption that a water right passes with a transfer of the land unless expressly excepted. Cal. Code R. & Regs. tit. 23 §833

19-CA-d.3 to 19-CA-d.4 – Notify New Owner

After receiving a complete Notice of Change of Ownership and verifying the change in ownership, the SWRCB will send notice of the change to the new owner, the primary previous owner, and any non-primary previous owners in order to ensure that all those with a stake in the water right prior to the change in ownership are aware of the change in ownership.

19-CA-d.5 to 19-CA-d.7 – Does the New Owner or any Notified Previous Owner Object to the Change?

All notified parties may object to the change in ownership within 30 days or forfeit their right to object. Where a notified party does object, the SWRCB no longer has authority and the matter must be adjudicated by the courts. Cal. Code R. & Regs. tit. 23 §832. In such cases, the SWRCB may assist in the court adjudication by providing relevant information pertaining to the water right in question. Where no notified parties object, the developer may continue with the project. The SWRCB will not change its record of ownership until the court determines the matter or the parties come to a mutual agreement regarding ownership of the water right. Cal. Code R. & Regs. tit. 23 §832.


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Edit State Water Resources Control Board
California State Water Resources Control Board (916) 341-5254 Visit Website


Edit California State Water Resources Control Board
California Environmental Protection Agency-Water Quality and Public Trust Section Manager Visit Website