Water Rights Fee Guide

The Water Rights Fee is jointly administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).

The State Water Board provides billing information to the CDTFA to process and collect all assessed annual fees.

We developed this guide to provide you with easily accessible information to assist you in understanding the Water Rights Fee program.

Water Rights Fee

Effective January 1, 2004, the California Water Code was amended to require the State Water Board to adopt emergency regulations revising and establishing water right fees and water quality certification fees to be deposited in the Water Rights Fund in the State Treasury.

The Water Code authorizes the State Water Board to periodically adjust the fees and requires it to revise the fee schedule each fiscal year as necessary to conform to the revenue levels set forth in the annual Budget Act. (WAT sections 1525, 1530, & 13160.1.

How the Revenue is Used

The funds are used by the State Water Board to:

  • Cover the cost of activities involving hydroelectric power projects subject to licensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
  • Cover the cost of establishing plans and policies that address the diversion or use of water,
  • Pay CDTFA for its cost of administering the water rights fee collection program.

About This Guide

Each section of this guide contains important information relevant to the Fee.

The Getting Started section includes a summary of the general application of the Fee, and lists resources related to registration, applicable fee rates, and payments.

The Industry Topics section contains specific topics important to the Fee, including information about assessments and refunds.

The Resources section provides links to useful information, including special notices, and applicable statutes/regulations.

Please note: The general information provided in this Tax Guide does not supersede any law or regulation. This guide summarizes the law and applicable regulations in effect when it was published. However, changes in the law or regulations may have occurred. If there is a conflict between this guide and current law, the current law governs.

If You Need Help

If at any time you need assistance with topics included in this guide — or with topics not included — feel free to contact us by telephone or email. For contact information and hours of operation, please visit our How to Contact Us webpage.

If you have suggestions for improving this guide, please contact us by email.