Do you need a permit to use water for other needs in California during a drought?


Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
When it comes to water usage in a state like California, I imagine they have rules about how much water you can use in the area. I know when they deal with droughts they usually put our an order to not use water for stuff like; watering your grass, using water to cool down machinery, taking excessively long showers, etc.

Now, is it ever a requirement while living in California to get a permit in order to use water for other needs? Like maybe filling up a pool, or what I previously mentioned above. Are there any requirements for locals to follow if permits aren't required? What happens if people go over a certain limit? Do they have a set limit of how much water can be used per household?

I live in Michigan, so we don't really ever worry about droughts up here. But I imagine with California and other hot locations, will have some rules regarding water usage during a drought.
California, United States
In some ways yes. I know citizens are not required a permit for general use, like drinking it, showering, doing laundry etc. But when a drought comes along, you might be forced to limit your water usage during that time. But I don't think you are required to obtain a permit. I think the only reason is if you intend to use more water than you're permitted to. And for that reason, it seems you do need a permit.

You can find out more info on water rights in California here -
I believe it varies depending on the city in California. I know in some areas, they fine households for going over a certain water limit, regardless of what it's used for. In others, you'd be okay as long as you had a permit. Some folks have gotten creative by irrigating their lawns with their pond water, which doesn't require a special permit.
Most people don't get deep in the weeds enough to warrant applying for a permit in this case. It would have to be a fairly large and important project to warrant a permit.

But hey, if anyone felt the need for permits concerning water, it would California, I guess.
I think it depends on how the situation is and which city in California.
During a drought, they do tend to fine anyone who goes way over the water limit. It would probably be tricky to get a permit as it would have to be something important or a serious matter to go over the water limit during a drought.
How much water you can use depends on your permit type. You are also strictly restricted to use the water for the purpose you got the permit for. California droughts may also restrict new water permits. Water usage depends on existing permits, however, but during shortages, even those with permits could face limitations.