Watercourse and Encroachment Permits

The Watershed Protection District's Permits Section staff members handle the lion’s share of the permitting aspect of the “Watershed Planning and Permitting” Division. In the Permits Section, we administer ordinances that regulate activities within the District’s jurisdictional areas. Generally speaking, that is the bed and banks and major storm water overflows adjacent to our “redline” channels, as the channels are described by District Board resolution.

In this Division, we process two types of permits: the “encroachment” permit and the “watercourse” permit. While some activities require an “encroachment” permit due to work being done within the District’s real estate holdings, other allowed activities call for a “watercourse” permit where development or activity will affect the floodplain associated with a jurisdictional channel. The issuance of permits helps protect the jurisdictional watercourses of our county. Also, the Permits procedure helps to assure orderly development that will not unduly impinge on neighbors’ rights with respect to the watersheds and streams in the area.

The Permits staff maintains close relationships with other permitting agencies responsible for related aspects of the watersheds. Our division often collaborates with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Ventura County Resource Management Agency (RMA) as well as the county’s ten incorporated cities so as to mesh jurisdictional responsibilities and provide support in the interest of the health and safety of the public in the vicinity of the District’s facilities and channels.

The District issues a Watercourse/Encroachment Permit for flood control purposes. You may obtain an application and submit a permit at the Public Works Agency, Ventura County Watershed Protection District, 800 South Victoria Avenue, Ventura, California, 93009-1610. Permit counter hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and they may be reached by calling (805) 662-6882.

Forms and Instructions

If you meet the criteria and require a permit, please visit our Countywide "One Stop Permitting" site to download instructions, forms, fee schedule and the latest resolution.  Latest approved resolution details the annual fee schedule adjustment.  The resolution establishing fees for services is approved each year, generally in May to be effective 60 days after the date of adoption.  Be sure that you are downloading the current fee schedule. The District has prepared a Guide for Hydrology and Hydraulic Study Reports (PDF) to assist in preparing these documents as part of your application for a permit. Also available for download are the insurance requirements and sample forms. For surety bond information and samples, click here. If you have any questions or need assistance completing these forms, please contact us at (805) 662-6882.

Acts Prohibited Unless Permit Obtained

No person shall do or commit or cause to be done or committed any of the following described acts without first obtaining a written District permit from the enforcing officer:

  • Impair, divert, impede, or alter the characteristics of the flow of water running in a watercourse;
  • Deposit any material of any kind in a watercourse so as to obstruct it, or to impair, divert, impede, or alter the characteristics of flow of water therein;
  • Alter the surface of land by construction, excavation, embankment, or otherwise, so as to alter the capacity of a watercourse or the characteristics of the flow of water therein;
  • Construct, alter, or remove any flood control, storm water drainage, or water conservation facility, structure or channel of or in a watercourse;
  • Construct or place any structure in, upon, or across a watercourse;
  • Plant any vegetation (other than grasses or annual crops) within a watercourse or plant any vegetation on the banks thereof which impairs, impedes, diverts, or alters the characteristics of flow of water in such a watercourse;
  • Commit any act on or in any easement dedicated, granted, or reserved for flood control, storm water drainage, or water conservation purposes that will impair the use of such easement for such purposes; or
  • Interfere with, impair with the use of, or cause damage to any flood control, storm water drainage, or water conservation facility, structure or right of way in a watercourse.

Exemptions to Acts Prohibited

The above criteria does not prohibit any person from performing emergency maintenance or work within, upon, over, under or through any watercourse when such work is necessary and proper for the preservation of life or property and when an urgent necessity therefore has arisen, provided that the person performing such emergency work applies for a written permit for such work within fifteen (15) calendar days after the commencement thereof, and complies with all the terms and conditions of the permit so issued. In any action at law, or inequity between the District and the person doing the emergency work, the latter shall have the burden of proving that an emergency existed if such question be in issue.

Additional Valuable Information Regarding Permitting Projects within the "Wetlands" of Ventura County

This document, called Wetland Project Permitting Guide, explains the regulations that must be complied with in order to create improvements or developments within the areas known as "wetlands" in our county. It explains the "triggers" that cause the necessity for various types of permits from agencies such as Ventura County Resource Management Agency (RMA) , California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Army Corps of Engineers, and our own Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD). This document not only explains the processes for permitting stream and wetland projects in Ventura County but also for areas along the Santa Clara River in Los Angeles County.