Watermaster Services


The Watermaster Program ensures that 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 DWR 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. 


California Water Code, Section 4201, states that watermaster services are to be paid 100 percent by water right holders.  As required by the California Water Code, Sections 4200 through 4305, the annual budget contains the total amount required for the service area.  View the current watermaster budget, showing the various cost categories as well as the previous year’s budget and billing amounts.

Contact Information

Lester Grade

Section Chief, Surface Water Investigations Section

Northern Region Office, DIRWM

California Department of Water Resources

Office (530) 949-0917 

Fax      (530) 529-7322