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.