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Water Resources

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has various levels of enforcement responsibility in these areas:

State Water Project (SWP) Right of Way - Encroachment Permit Program

DWR is authorized (Water Code 12899) to issue encroachment permits to allow outside parties to construct works within the SWP right of way. The permit program is in place to deter the draining or diverting of water that can result in damage to the SWP. DWR has authority to assess fines up to $1,000 per day, plus cost of legal expenses, and cost of repairs, if an owner fails to stop work on an unauthorized encroachment.


The main purpose of the Watermaster Program is to ensure water is allocated according to established water rights, thereby reducing water rights court litigation, civil lawsuits, and law enforcement workload. It also helps to prevent the waste and unreasonable use of water. DWR serves as Watermaster for several streams or groundwater basins under the authority of the county superior court or the State Water Resources Control Board.

Safety of Dams

It is the mission of the Division of Safety of Dams (DSOD) to protect people against the loss of life and property from dam failure. The California Water Code entrusts this regulatory power to DWR. With assistance from state law enforcement, DSOD supervises the construction, enlargement, alteration, repair, maintenance, operation, and removal of dams and reservoirs. It also has the authority to investigate or inspect dams and reservoirs on private property, and may take such action in the event of an emergency and as needed to protect life and property.

Central Valley Flood Protection Board - Encroachment Permit Program

Title 23 Water Code requires the public to apply for an encroachment permit if work is being done on any federal flood control project. If that permit is approved by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, it is posted to the board's web site as public information. An encroachment without an approved permit may result in action by the board in coordination with local law enforcement agencies. In some cases, local law enforcement has been called to stop landowners from illegally digging a hole or inserting pipes into a levee system protected by the board.

Delta Fish Agreement

DWR's Division of Environmental Services implements two programs that partially fulfill fish mitigation obligations pursuant to the "Agreement between DWR and Department of Fish and Game to Offsett Direct Losses in Relation ot the Harvey O. Banks Delta Pumping Plant," also known as the Delta Fish Agreement.