Water Reporting in Oil and Gas Operations

​​​​​​​Water is a significant component of oil and natural gas well production and injection. In California, many barrels of typically briny groundwater are produced along with every barrel of oil. Industry operators may treat that briny water and return (inject) it to the underground reservoir it came from, either for disposal or to help push out more oil. Drilling a well takes water, too. Public and environmental concerns over the composition and disposal of the water led to stiffening state law in this area several years ago.

Senate Bill 1281 (Pavley, 2014) amended the reporting requirements for oil and gas operators to establish more explicit requirements for how operators report well water use. These requirements are found in Public Resources Code (PRC) section 3227. Among the rules: operators must provide a monthly statement and a more detailed quarterly report to the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM, formerly DOGGR)​. The monthly statement shows the disposition of the water produced. The quarterly report must include not only the disposition of all water used in or produced by oil and gas field activities, but the sources and volumes of water used, water treatment methods, and disposal methods. Operators also must detail how much of the water brought to the surface might have been used for drinking or agriculture.


Related Information

Water Use Dictionary, Data, Reports

Water Quality

For the purpose of reporting water under PRC section 3227, the State ​Water Resources Control Board has advised that “water suitable for domestic or irrigation purposes” is appropriately defined as water containing 10,000 milligrams per liter (mg/l), or less, total dissolved solids (TDS).


For Operators

In addition to a monthly water disposition statement, operators must submit a quarterly water use report in WellSTAR, the Well Statewide Tracking and Reporting online database system. Those who do not use WellSTAR must file their report at their local CalGEM district office​. They can use the district office public-use computer to access, complete, and file their report. Operators have one month after the end of the quarter to submit the water data. 
Questions? Please call (916) 323-0422.

Quarterly Reporting Dates:

QuarterWater Reporting PeriodReport Due
1st QuarterJanuary 1 - March 31April 30
2st QuarterApril 1 - June 30July 31
3rd QuarterJuly 1 - September 30October 31
4th QuarterOctober 1 - December 31January 31