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The groundwater or subsurface water under a property owner's land is regulated by California water rights. All water is owned by the state, but is intended for fair use by all of the state's citizens for domestic or agricultural use. Any property owners that have subsurface streams, surface water that flows underground, or percolating groundwater have the rights to "reasonable use" of such water. There are not strict regulations in regards to groundwater rights, thus a land owner with groundwater may sell, lease, transfer or gift the rights to the groundwater on their property if they wish.
Water drilling rights come into play when a property owner wishes to create a well, deepen a well, or remove a well on their land. Although groundwater owners have water drilling rights to groundwater on their property, regulations are in place in order to protect water quality. In order to drill a well, a permit must be attained from the city's well permitting agency and a specialized drilling contractor must be hired. According to the California Business and Professions Code, "No person shall undertake to dig, bore, or drill a water well, cathodic protection well, groundwater monitoring well, or geothermal heat exchange well, to deepen or reperforate such a well, or to abandon or destroy such a well, unless the person responsible for that construction, alteration, destruction, or abandonment possesses a C-57 Water Well Contractor's License."
Water drilling rights can become complex to navigate because groundwater responsibility is typically shared between the State Water Board, California courts, the Department of Water Resources, and the California Water Commission. It can be a complicated process to determine who is the correct entity to deal with when trying to exercise water drilling rights on your property. In addition, it is important to hire a contractor with a C-57 Water Well Contractor's License before drilling for water. If the regulations and ordinances are not followed correctly, fines, penalties, loss of rights, or other litigations may be imposed by the state.
If you have questions about your water drilling rights, it would be best to seek the council of an environmental lawyer that can explain your water rights to use of groundwater on your property. Whether you already have a well or intent to create a new one, an experienced attorney can guide you through the many regulations involved in water drilling rights and can help you through the process of permitting. This will make your access to groundwater safer, easier, and quicker all around.
It can be difficult to navigate water drilling rights if you are looking to purchase rights from the state or if you are involved in a dispute of rights. Contact Attorney Search Network for a free lawyer referral to a lawyer with real water drilling rights experience.
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