(a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the growing water needs of the state require the use of water in an efficient manner and that the efficient use of water requires certainty in the definition of property rights to the use of water. The Legislature further declares that it is the policy of this state to encourage conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater supplies and to make surface water available for other beneficial uses. The Legislature recognizes that the substantial investments that may be necessary to implement and maintain a conjunctive use program require certainty in the continued right to the use of alternate water supplies.
(b) When any holder of an appropriative right fails to use all or any part of the water as a result of conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater involving the substitution of an alternate supply for the unused portion of the surface water, any cessation of, or reduction in, the use of the appropriated water shall be deemed equivalent to a reasonable and beneficial use of water to the extent of the cessation of, or reduction in, use, and to the same extent as the appropriated water was put to reasonable and beneficial use by that person. No forfeiture of the appropriative right to the water for which an alternate supply is substituted shall occur upon the lapse of the forfeiture period applicable to water appropriated pursuant to the Water Commission Act or this code or the forfeiture period applicable to water appropriated prior to December 19, 1914.
The state board may require any holder of an appropriative right who seeks the benefit of this section to file periodic reports describing the extent and amount of the reduction in water use due to substitution of an alternate supply. To the maximum extent possible, the reports shall be made a part of other reports required by the state board relating to the use of water. Failure to file the reports shall deprive the user of water of the benefits of this section.
(c) Substitution of an alternate supply may be made only if the extraction of the alternate supply conforms to all requirements imposed pursuant to an adjudication of the groundwater basin, if applicable, and meets one of the following conditions:
(1) Except as specified in paragraph (2), is from a groundwater basin for which the operating safe yield is not exceeded prior to the extraction of the alternate supply and does not cause the operating safe yield of the groundwater basin from which the alternate supply is obtained to be exceeded.
(2) Is from the Eastern San Joaquin County Basin, as described on pages 38 and 39 of the Department of Water Resources Bulletin No. 118-80, for which the operating safe yield is exceeded prior to the extraction of the alternative supply, if all of the following requirements are met:
(A) The conjunctive use program is operated in accordance with a local groundwater management program that complies with the requirements of this section.
(B) The groundwater management program establishes requirements for the extraction of groundwater and is approved by a joint powers authority that meets the requirements of subparagraph (C).
(C) The joint powers authority includes one or more of the water agencies overlying the contemplated points of groundwater extraction and one or more of the water agencies that will share in the benefits to be derived from the local groundwater management program.
(D) By either of the following methods, the overdraft of the groundwater basin underlying the point of extraction has been reduced prior to the commencement of extraction:
(i) Elimination of a volume of existing groundwater extractions in excess of the proposed new extraction.
(ii) Recharge of the groundwater basin with a volume of water in excess of the proposed new extraction.
(E) The operation of that conjunctive use program ensures that the overdraft of the groundwater basin continues to be reduced.
(d) Water, or the right to the use of water, the use of which has ceased or been reduced as the result of conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater involving substitution of an alternate supply, as described in subdivisions (b) and (c), may be sold, leased, exchanged, or otherwise transferred pursuant to any provision of law relating to the transfer of water or water rights, including, but not limited to, provisions of law governing any change in point of diversion, place of use, and purpose of use due to the transfer.
(e) As used in this section, “substitution of an alternate supply” means replacement of water diverted under an appropriative right by the substitution of an equivalent amount of groundwater.
(f) This section does not apply to the Santa Ana River watershed.
(g) This section does not apply in any area where groundwater pumping causes, or threatens to cause, a violation of water quality objectives or an unreasonable effect on beneficial uses established in a water quality control plan adopted or approved by the state board pursuant to, and to the extent authorized by, Section 13170 or 13245, which designates areas where groundwater pumping causes, or threatens to cause, a violation of water quality objectives or an unreasonable effect on beneficial uses.
(h) This section shall not be construed to increase or decrease the jurisdiction of the state board over groundwater resources, or to confer on the state board jurisdiction over groundwater basins over which it does not have jurisdiction pursuant to other provisions of law.
(Amended (as added by Stats. 1992, Ch. 779, Sec. 1) by Stats. 2003, Ch. 740, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2004.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018