RAPID/Hydropower/California/Water Access & Rights

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RAPID

Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

California Hydropower Water Access & Water Rights(19-CA)

In California, a hydropower developer may need a water right to meet the project’s water needs and/or for other purposes, such as dust suppression for roads and construction activities. If the developer intends to rely upon surface (or subterranean stream) water, the developer may need to apply to the California State Water Resources Control Board for a permit to appropriate water, a long term water transfer, or an order approving a change of use for an existing water right. The developer may also need to obtain a Streambed/Lakebed Alteration Agreement from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. If the developer intends to rely upon a groundwater supply, the developer will need to abide by the local groundwater management plan and may need to execute a groundwater transfer.

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Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

California Federal

Water Right Agency: California State Water Resources Control Board
Water Right Classification: Prior Appropriation/Riparian Rights Hybrid
Is a Water Right Required for the Project? Based on the nature of the energy resource, hydropower projects require access to water, which in many instances will require a determination by the state authority as to whether a water right is necessary. Depending on the type of hydropower facility (dam, run-of-river, or pumped storage), the developer may rely upon surface water, groundwater, or municipal wastewater to meet the hydropower project’s water needs. The developer of a hydropower project may also require water for other purposes, such as dust suppression for roads and construction activities.

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