Document Details

A Practitioner’s Guide to Instream Flow Transactions in California

Sari Sommarstrom, Mary Ann King, Amy Hoss, Carson Cox, Chris Alford | March 1st, 2016

The purpose of this guide is to help water right holders –and those assisting them – understand their options for keeping water instream in California. This guide briefly describes some of the most common types of instream flow transactions (i.e., methods for restoring flow for environmental purposes), and discusses in detail how to navigate the process of completing an instream flow dedication by changing a water right, as permitted by Water Code Section 1707.

The intended audience for this document includes both water rights holders and practitioners, such as staff for land trusts, water trusts, Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), and other organizations. This guide focuses on instream dedications via the change petition process administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board). Other publications – for example, the Trust for Public Land’s Water Acquisition Handbook (2003) – provide a more general overview of acquiring water for environmental purposes in California. This guide will provide a description of the change petition process, and offer advice on how to navigate, troubleshoot, and work in partnership with the State Water Board and other natural resource agencies to complete an instream flow dedication.


ecosystem management, flows, water quality, water rights