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Trust Water Rights Program

Our Trust Water Rights Program allows us to hold water rights for future uses without the risk of relinquishment. Water rights held in trust contribute to streamflows and groundwater recharge, while retaining their original priority date.

The Trust Water Rights Program provides flexibility to:

  • Enhance flows — We buy and lease water rights through our Water Acquisitions Program to enhance streamflows.
  • Bank — We facilitate water banking to address water supply challenges.
  • "Park" water rights — Individual water right holders can temporarily donate or "park" their water right when they are not using it to avoid relinquishment.

We use our Trust Water Rights Program to manage water acquisitions and accept temporary donations. We acquire water rights to restore streamflows and mitigate for new out-of-stream uses. We also provide water right holders protection from losing their right (relinquishment) by accepting their temporarily donated rights into the Trust Water Rights Program.

We facilitate the following efforts through the Trust Water Rights Program:

  • Water Acquisitions Program: We buy and lease water rights to improve streamflows for fish and wildlife, as well as provide mitigation for new out-of-stream uses.
  • Water banking: Private and public entities provide mitigation for new uses through water banks that usually depend on the Trust Water Rights Program.
  • Temporary or permanent donations (see below): Any water right holder concerned about relinquishment can “park” their water right while it is not being used.

Temporary donations

Water right holders can "park" or donate all or part of their water right. Most donations are temporary but water rights can also be permanently donated through a deed conveying the water right to us. Donating has the following benefits:

  • Donors receive the same amount back at the end of the temporary donation period
  • No risk of relinquishing the water held in trust
  • Donation may qualify as a charitable tax deduction

To temporarily donate a water right (or portion of a right), a water right holder submits the donation form to us and provides proof that the water right has been used in the last five years. Once our regional offices receive the complete form and proof of use, we send a letter to the water right holder accepting the water right into the Trust Water Rights Program. We also post notice of water right donations on our website and provide for electronic submission of comments.

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