RAPID/Solar/Water Use

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Regulatory Information Overviews

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Water access and water rights are predominantly handled at the state level. A solar developer may require water for such uses as plant operations at a CSP facility, dust suppression for roads, and construction activities. Depending on the situation and demands of a project, a developer may seek water through a lease holder, a municipality, or a permanent water right.

Water rights are typically divided into surface water and ground water rights. In the western United States, surface water rights are generally governed by a system called prior appropriation (where water rights are acquired through priority and beneficial use). While in the eastern United States, surface water rights are governed by a system known as riparian rights (where water rights are obtained by having land that is adjacent to a stream or river). Ground water rights are governed by a diverse set of rules depending on the state. States may employ the rule of capture (where a land owner is able to use as much water as he/she can pump), limit the rule of capture through conservation laws, include ground water in the prior appropriation system, or include only tributary ground water (ground water that is hydraulically connected to surface water) in the prior appropriation system.

Permitting Location Water Right Agency Water Right Classification Geothermal Right Classification Is a Water Right Required to Pump Geothermal Fluids?

Solar Water Use in California

California State Water Resources Control Board

Hybrid of Prior Appropriation and Riparian Right

Solar Water Use in Federal

Solar Water Use in Nevada

Nevada Division of Water Resources

Prior appropriation

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