(a) When any person entitled to the use of water under an appropriative right fails to use all or any part of the water because of water conservation efforts, any cessation or reduction in the use of the appropriated water shall be deemed equivalent to a reasonable beneficial use of water to the extent of the cessation or reduction in use. No forfeiture of the appropriative right to the water conserved 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 board may require that any user of water who seeks the benefit of this section file periodic reports describing the extent and amount of the reduction in water use due to water conservation efforts. To the maximum extent possible, the reports shall be made a part of other reports required by the board relating to the use of water. Failure to file the reports shall deprive the user of water of the benefits of this section.
For purposes of this section, the term “water conservation” shall mean the use of less water to accomplish the same purpose or purposes of use allowed under the existing appropriative right. Where water appropriated for irrigation purposes is not used as a result of temporary land fallowing or crop rotation, the reduced usage shall be deemed water conservation for purposes of this section. For the purpose of this section, “land fallowing” and “crop rotation” mean those respective land practices, involving the nonuse of water, used in the course of normal and customary agricultural production to maintain or promote the productivity of agricultural land.
(b) Water, or the right to the use of water, the use of which has ceased or been reduced as the result of water conservation efforts as described in subdivision (a), 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.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon the completion of the term of a water transfer agreement, or the right to the use of that water, that is available as a result of water conservation efforts described in subdivision (a), the right to the use of the water shall revert to the transferor as if the water transfer had not been undertaken.
(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 938, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2000.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018