Jurisdictional Sized Dams
Jurisdictional dams are dams that are under the regulatory powers of the State of California. A “dam” is any artificial barrier, together with appurtenant works as described in Sections 6002 and 6003 of the California Water Code. A dam owner is a person or non-federal entity with legal responsibility for the dam.
If the dam height is more than 6 feet and it impounds 50 acre-feet or more of water, or if the dam is 25 feet or higher and impounds more than 15 acre-feet of water, it will be under our jurisdictional oversight, unless it is exempted. The DSOD Jurisdictional Size Chart (image right) summarizes the above criteria.
Jurisdictional height of a dam, as determined by DSOD, is the vertical distance measured from the lowest point at the downstream toe of the dam to its maximum storage elevation, which is typically the spillway crest. This same approach is also used for calculating the dam height for determining the annual fee.
Exemptions from DSOD Jurisdiction
For a complete text of exemptions, please refer to "Statutes and Regulations Pertaining to Supervision of Dams and Reservoirs", California Water Code, Division 3, Dams and Reservoirs, Part 1, Supervision of Dams and Reservoirs, Chapter 1, Definitions, 6000-6008. A summary of some specific exemptions from DSOD jurisdiction include:
- Obstructions in a canal to raise, lower or divert water there from
- Levees, railroad fills
- Road or highway fills
- Circular tanks
- Tanks elevated above the ground
- Certain non-circular tanks in San Diego County
- Barriers off-stream for agricultural use or use as sewage sludge drying facilities
- Obstructions in channels or watercourses which are 15 feet or less in height, with single purpose of spreading water within the bed of the stream or watercourse upstream for percolation underground
- Waste water control facility ponds, which are 15 feet or less in height, have a maximum storage capacity of 1500 acre-feet or less, are off-stream, and the operating public agency adopts certain resolutions
- Barriers in the Salton Sea within or below the minus 220 foot contour
- Federal dams
If you have a question regarding the jurisdictional status of a particular dam, you can examine the listing of dams within the jurisdiction of the State of California. If you cannot find the dam in question, you can contact the appropriate Area Engineer assigned to the county where the dam is located. You can assist us greatly by providing us with the dam name, affected water course, nearby town, and county in which the dam in questions is located.