aerial view of aqueduct

Water Authority’s Right-of-Way Allows Access to Critical Infrastructure

The Water Authority maintains 310 miles of pipeline and 1,600 related structures and facilities. These facilities are located within the Water Authority’s 168 miles of right-of-way.

“Right-of-way” is land that the Water Authority owns or has rights to use to operate, maintain or repair agency facilities. .

Managing the right-of-way to preserve the Water Authority’s ability to quickly access or repair vital water facilities when needed is a crucial ongoing effort.

Contact a representative at (858) 522-6900 for more information or 811, the national call-before-you-dig phone number.

Easements & Other Property Acquisition

The majority of the Water Authority’s right-of-way is in the form of easements. Easements are permanent and appear in the title report for the property when it is transferred from seller to buyer.

The Water Authority should be consulted before any improvements are planned to ensure those improvements are compatible with the easement held by the Water Authority. Chapter 7 of the Water Authority’s Administrative Code outlines permittable uses of easements.

download this documentAdministrative Code – Chapter 7.00 – Regulation of Rights of Way and Property

Property Acquisition

The acquisition section acquires fee and easement interests along with necessary mitigation property for Water Authority construction projects. Additionally, the section leases and manages Water Authority-owned real property. When necessary, the section will dispose of or sell real property.

When real property is required for a project, Water Authority staff will work with property owners to acquire the needed property by mutual agreement.

The most common forms of acquisition are Fee Purchase, Easement Purchase, Temporary Easements, Rights of Entry, and Lease.

Fee Purchase

A Fee Purchase is the outright purchase of the ownership of a parcel of land from one party by another party. An offer by the Water Authority to purchase the fee interest in a property is made based on a fair market appraisal completed by an independent appraiser. Property owners may provide input and data to the appraisers and may obtain their own appraisal that is reimbursable up to $5,000.

Easement Purchase

The purchase of easement rights by the Water Authority also requires payment of just compensation based on a fair market appraisal. Rather than purchasing the outright ownership, the Water Authority may only need to use a portion of a parcel of land for its project. Property owners may provide input and data to the appraisers and may obtain their own appraisal that is reimbursable up to $5,000.

Temporary Easements

From time to time it may be necessary to acquire additional work area for projects under construction. When this is necessary, temporary easements may be acquired. Once the project is completed, the temporary easement is quitclaimed or expires and full use of the land is once again available to the property owner.

Rights of Entry

Similar to a Temporary Easement, a Right of Entry allows the Water Authority to enter a property for a specific reason, usually for a specific, short-term duration.


Lease is the rental of real property by one party from another party for a specific time period at a predetermined price. The Water Authority occasionally leases necessary property from private parties and may lease its owned real property to private users.

Property Valuation

An appraisal of property will be made before negotiations are started. Fair market value is determined by using any of or a combination of, the three methods are listed below:  

  • The market value or comparison method: How the property compares with similar properties that have sold in the area
  • Replacement or cost method: Value based on the cost to replace the improvements, less depreciation
  • Income method: A valuation determination based on the income the property produces


When negotiations reach an impasse, or if clear title cannot be conveyed, the Water Authority may initiate condemnation proceedings to gain possession through the legal system. This process will also cover compensation for the property.


If a Water Authority project displaces an owner or tenant, the property owner and/or tenant may be entitled to receive relocation benefits. Occupants of the property will be interviewed to determine the needs of the occupants and advised of their specific eligibility for assistance.

Only legal residents of the dwelling will be eligible for relocation benefits. Relocation benefits can include referrals to other locations, reimbursement for moving expenses, or possibly a payment to reimburse for increased housing costs.