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Watermaster Services


The main purpose of the Watermaster Program is to ensure water is allocated according to established water rights as determined by court adjudications or agreements by an unbiased, qualified person, thereby reducing water rights court litigation, civil lawsuits, and law enforcement workload. It also helps prevent the waste or unreasonable use of water.


The State established the Watermaster Program in 1924 to provide for general public welfare and safety after many injuries and some deaths resulting from disputes over adjudicated water rights. Watermaster service is administered by the Department of Water Resources in accordance with Part 4, Division 2 of the California Water Code. Watermaster service areas are created by the Department either at the request of water users or by order of the Superior Court. The first Watermaster service area was formed in September 1929.

Geographic Coverage

The Department provides Watermaster service for a number of stream systems in Northern California.