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Environmental Law Research Guide: California Water Law

CA Water Law

California Water Code 

The CA Water Code was originally enacted in 1948 though most of CA water use laws were created by Water Commission Act passed on 1914. The Water Code should be your first stop in your research of CA water law. 

The Division of Drinking Water maintains compilations of drinking water and recycled water statutes and regulations. 

A print version of the Water Code is available in the Law Library Reference Room, as well as the 2nd floor of the Law Library, near other CA materials. 

California Regulations

CA regulations related to water are spread throughout the CA Code of Regulations. The SWRCB maintains compilation of regulations in some relevan areas, but you are encouraged to ensure that the regulations are up-to-date.  

Title 23. Water Rights

Title 23. SWRCB Meeting Rules

Title 27. Solid Waste

Some of the plans and policies issued by the SWRCB have the legal force of regulations. A list of in force policies and those under development is available on the SWRCB website. 

Federal Clean Water Act & Federal Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency provides compilations of the many statutes and regulations that impact water in the United States. The EPA organizes the primary legal materials by topic. 

State Resources

State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)

This state agency works "To preserve, enhance, and restore the quality of California’s water resources and drinking water for the protection of the environment, public health, and all beneficial uses, and to ensure proper water resource allocation and efficient use, for the benefit of present and future generations." The website provides a wealth of information including compiled federal and state laws and regulations, along with information on specific issues including agriculture, drinking water, groundwater, and drought restrictions. 

Statutory Water Rights Law Pamphlet

The SWRCB, as part of its public information program, creates a pamphlet that outlines the CA water law. This pamphlet is an excellent introduction to CA water law and a great resource for recent developments in CA water law including recently decided cases. 

Local Water Boards

There are nine regional water boards throughout California. Each regional board is comprised of seven part-time board members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Their boundaries are created based on watersheds and their unique water quality requirements. If you would like to find your local water board, you can enter your address on this webpage offered by the SWRCB. 

General Resources including those for Other States