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Central Basin Water Rights Panel

The Central Basin Water Rights Panel is made up of seven Central Basin water rights holders from the cities of Downey, Lakewood, Long Beach, Signal Hill, and Paramount, along with Golden State Water Co. and Montebello Land and Water Co.


3-14-2024  Meeting Agenda Packet


History of the Central Basin Watermaster

Groundwater development increased dramatically in 1909 with the introduction of the deep-well turbine pump. Its adaptability and superior operating characteristics provided efficient water wells within economic reach of everyone. However, with the population boom and growth in industry and agriculture, the demand for groundwater exceeded the natural replenishment of the Central Basin causing the depletion of groundwater aquifers. The overdraft caused water levels to decrease to dangerous levels, subjecting the basin to sea water intrusion.

The deteriorating groundwater situation in the Central Basin and in the adjoining West Coast Basin led to the formation of the Central Basin Water Association in 1950, a similar association was formed for the West Coast Basin. The Central Basin and West Coast Basin Associations were largely responsible for the creation of the Central and West Basin Water Replenishment District (CWBWRD) in 1959, known today as the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD). Its objective is to replenish and maintain the groundwater basins by purchasing imported water, recharging the basins, and halting sea water intrusion.

On January 2, 1962, the CWBWRD filed a case in the Superior Court pursuing to obtain quiet title to rights to the use of groundwater, to secure judicial definition of each right as against each and every other right involved, and to regulate withdrawals from the Central Basin to protect the water supply from deteriorating. Yet, adverse groundwater conditions and the uncertainty about the time that would elapse before final adjudication prompted the Central Basin Water Association to draft an interim agreement curtailing extractions from the Basin. By September 1962, the proposed agreement was approved by a sufficient number of water producers (producers owning more than 75 percent of the Assumed Relative Rights within the Basin) to guarantee control over the groundwater pumping in the Basin. On September 2, 1962, the Court singed the “Order Pursuant to Stipulation and Interim Agreement and Petition for Order” and appointed the Department of Water Resources (DWR) as Watermaster.

Three years later, after a week of testimony on engineering, geology, hydrology, and safe yield of the Basin and arguments on water right entitlements, the case filed by the CWBWRD was finalized and signed on October 11, 1965. The Judge appointed DWR as Watermaster and the final Judgment became effective on October 1, 1966.

Since its inception, the Judgment has been amended three types. The Judgment was first amended on March 21, 1980 to provide for a transition in the administrative year from a water year (October 1 to September 30) to a fiscal year (July 1 to June 30). The Judgment was amended for the second time on July 9, 1985 to modify the annual budget ($20 minimum assessment) and exchange pool provisions. In addition, the Second Amended Judgment modified carryover and overproduction provisions (to 20 percent of allowed pumping allocation or 20 acre-feet from 10 percent of allowed pumping allocation or 10 acre-feet), defined carryover, and provided for exemptions for extractors of contaminated groundwater.

The Third Amended Judgment was entered on December 23, 2013. For the first time, the Court allows water rights holders to have direct input into how the Judgment is administered and enforced. The Judgment confirms the retirement of DWR as the Watermaster and mandates the creation of a new Watermaster with three separate bodies serving different functions.

Specifically, the Watermaster is composed of the Administrative Body, the Water Rights Panel, and the Storage Panel:

1.       The Judgment appoints WRD as the Administrative Body to assist the Court in the administration and enforcement of the provisions of the Judgment. In addition, to fulfill Watermaster accounting and reporting functions.

2.       The Water Rights Panel enforces issues related to pumping rights within the adjudication and is made up of seven Central Basin water rights holders. Six panel members are elected by other water rights holders with similar water rights and the seventh panel member is elected at-large by all water rights holders.

3.       The Storage Panel is composed of the Water Rights Panel and the WRD Board of Directors, which together review and approve storage projects within the Basin.

All three bodies of the Watermaster began their duties in July 2014.

For more information regarding the Central Basin Water Rights Panel, please visit: