Topic: Water Rights

Overview

Water Rights

California hosts a substantial, complicated water rights system that allocates water across the state. In addition to a dual system — riparian and appropriate rights — today state courts are recognizing expanded public trust values in determining how the state’s water resources should be best used.

Water rights are governed mostly by state law. Water quality issues, which may affect allocation, are regulated separately by both federal and state laws. Water rights can be quite contentious.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Desert water agencies will appeal to Supreme Court in tribe’s landmark groundwater case

The Coachella Valley’s largest water agencies will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the question of whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has a federally established right to groundwater beneath the tribe’s reservation. … The case is likely to set an important precedent for tribes across the country.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: California water diverters scramble to satisfy new reporting rules

A crucial deadline passed quietly on January 1 that has big repercussions for the future of California’s water. It was the first of several deadlines that enforce new requirements for water diverters to precisely measure and report the amount of water they take from the state’s streams. Some 12,000 people and businesses that hold state water rights, large and small, are bound by the new rules.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: California case could set national precedent on Indian water rights

The Agua Caliente tribe in Palm Springs argues it has a right to groundwater. Stanford law professor Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson explains how a federal court could soon resolve century-old uncertainties around the issue.

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

Farming in the Delta with less water

If there is a positive outcome of five years of drought in California, it’s the lessons learned about how to manage water during a shortage in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. On the up-side, farmers got creative to cut back their water diversions by 32 percent through a volunteer program. On the learning-curve side, complex water rights confound who gets water during shortage.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Federal court weighs whether Agua Caliente tribe holds rights to groundwater

Lawyers for the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians presented their arguments to a federal appeals court in a water rights case that could set a precedent for tribes across the country.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The big shortage: how drought is impacting water investment

For those with a financial stake in water, drought can mean boom or bust, depending on the investment. And even without a specific market to trade water, there are numerous ways to invest in it – from buying land with water rights to stocks in water-dependent companies to municipal bonds. Take Michael Burry, for instance, the hedge fund manager featured in the book and movie “The Big Short” who outsmarted the subprime housing market crash.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Two years ago, Coachella Valley Water District’s permit for its largest groundwater facility expired. Now the district is applying for a new permit.

The Coachella Valley Water District has for decades been using a series of oblong ponds carved into the desert near the base of Mt. San Jacinto to capture imported water from the Colorado River. … Now CVWD is applying to the federal Bureau of Land Management for a new permit, and the application could face resistance from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians as the tribe fights the district in federal court in a landmark case over water rights.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Mississippi’s claim that Tennessee is stealing groundwater is a Supreme Court first

Sometime in the next few months, lawyers for the state of Mississippi will stand before a U.S. Supreme Court-appointed legal expert, clear their throats, and argue that Tennessee, a neighbor, is stealing water. … It is the first time the Supreme Court has considered a lawsuit that involves the use and distribution of groundwater reserves that lie beneath multiple state boundaries.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Goleta sues to stop ‘Law & Order’ creator from selling water to neighboring cities

If whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over, five years of drought have transformed California’s civil courts into well-worn legal boxing rings. As climate change threatens the state’s long-term water future, local water officials and legal experts say water rights have morphed into priceless bounty worth protecting by any means necessary.

Aquapedia background

Mojave River

Flowing into the heart of the Mojave Desert, the Mojave River exists mostly underground. Surface channels are usually dry absent occasional groundwater surfacing and flooding from extreme weather events like El Niño

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Watermaster: Understanding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta crisis

Michael George has called the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta “highly important, highly complex, highly compromised.” George serves as Delta watermaster, a position created as part of the Delta Reform Act of 2009 to administer water rights in the Delta, where there are some 2,800 separate water diversions.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Northern California towns are running out of water

Paskenta, population 112, is an out-of-the-way place where rustic ranches grace grass-covered hills rolling west toward Mendocino Pass. … A water crisis has triggered a rude awakening.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Federal judge wants more details before ruling in Nestle lawsuit

A federal judge Monday said he needed more information before he can determine if the government has erred in allowing Nestle to continuously withdraw millions of gallons of water annually from Strawberry Creek — 28 years after the company’s permit expired.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Pressure mounting on Nestlé’s water operations in San Bernardino Mountains

Environmentalists and other organizations are turning up the heat under international food and beverage provider Nestlé as a legal challenge to the company’s water operations in the San Bernardino National Forest heads toward a long-awaited federal court hearing Monday.

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Water board to refine enforcement procedures after ruling

Officials issued the fine to the Byron Bethany Irritation District at the height of the drought last summer, but the water board on June 7 affirmed two hearing officers’ earlier ruling that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the district took water it wasn’t entitled to under its century-old water right.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Illegal pumping cases dismissed

State water regulators on Tuesday formally dismissed complaints against two Delta water districts accused of diverting water illegally during the worst of the drought last summer.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: State water board drops record $1.5-million drought fine

State water regulators Tuesday dismissed a record $1.5-million fine against a Northern California irrigation district accused of diverting water last year in violation of a drought order.

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

Delta tunnels won’t take northern California’s water, say officials

Will Gov. Jerry Brown’s $17 billion Delta tunnels divert water to southern California that belongs to northern Californians? … Months of contentious public hearings start July 27.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Nestle plans for healthy forest and water bottling

A recent article, “Behind the Lawsuit to Turn Off Spigot to Nestle,” showed one perspective on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) process to renew Nestle Waters’ special-use permit to transport water through the forest. Here is another. First, Nestle Waters holds senior water rights dating back to the 1880s in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California to dismiss $1.4 million fine against irrigation district

Water regulators Thursday recommend dismissing a historic $1.4 million fine issued at the height of California’s drought last summer against a group of Central Valley farmers accused of taking river water that didn’t belong to them.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California investigates Nestle water rights

Activists who are trying to block Nestle’s bottling of water from a national forest have questioned the company’s claim that it holds water rights dating to the 1800s. Now California regulators are conducting an investigation to get to the bottom of the dispute.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestle: Forest Service shouldn’t infringe on water rights

Nestle is objecting to the U.S. Forest Service’s terms for issuing it a new permit to continue piping water out of a national forest, saying the agency is overstepping its authority and infringing on the company’s water rights.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Lawsuit accuses regulators of loosening Sacramento Delta water rules

Three environmentalist groups filed a lawsuit Friday alleging that to increase water flowing to farms and cities, state and federal regulators in the drought have repeatedly relaxed water-quality standards on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the detriment of its wild fish species.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Questions and answers about Saudi land purchases in the US

Almarai Co., Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company, has bought about 14,000 acres in drought-stricken Southern California and Arizona in an effort to grow hay for its massive herd of cows.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Saudi land purchases fuel debate over US water rights

Saudi Arabia’s largest dairy company will soon be unable to farm alfalfa in its own parched country to feed its 170,000 cows. So it’s turning to an unlikely place to grow the water-chugging crop – the drought-stricken American Southwest.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New dispute erupts over Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels project

A potentially major new fight has erupted over Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two huge tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and this time the protests are coming from a group of farmers that wants the tunnels built.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol

Late last spring, amid the depths of California’s punishing drought, state officials made a historic determination that rivers and creeks were too low for many farms and cities to draw from. Not everyone agreed, however.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Key questions in water rights hearing

On the surface, hearings in Sacramento starting this week will determine whether a Delta water district with century-old water rights pumped illegally for 12 days last summer — and whether the district should be penalized $1.4 million as a result.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

There’s a lawsuit in San Diego that began in 1951

There is a lawsuit in San Diego County that is as old as “I Love Lucy.” … In 1951, the U.S. government sued thousands of landowners in and around Fallbrook in a move to secure Camp Pendleton’s water rights.

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

A free-market plan to save the American West from drought

[Disque] Deane [Jr.] is not a rancher or a farmer; he’s a hedge-fund manager who had flown in from New York City the previous night. And as he appraised the property, he was less interested in its crop or cattle potential than in a different source of wealth: the water running through its streams and coursing beneath its surface.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Agua Caliente tribe to keep up water fight, leader says

Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts, the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California adopts rules for tracking water diversions

The regulations adopted by the State Water Resources Control Board require all those who divert water from rivers and streams to measure and report how much they use annually. … In a separate decision, the state water board ended a more than decade-long dispute with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians by deciding not to revoke a license held by the tribe.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Just like city folk, water rights holders will have to track usage

Even as California has marched out unprecedented water restrictions during the drought, the spigots at thousands of farms and ranches have gone largely unmonitored — a vestige of the state’s Gold Rush-era water policy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Demise of Klamath River deal could rekindle old water-use battles

The complicated pact, backed by the states of California and Oregon, called for the removal of four hydroelectric dams, settled water rights disputes and spelled out water allocations for irrigators and wildlife refuges in the Klamath Basin.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Tunnels fight changes venue

A small state agency will soon begin the daunting process of deciding whether to change the water rights for the state and federal water projects, allowing them to divert some of their water from the Sacramento River and bypass the Delta for the first time.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg News

The water barons of California’s Imperial Valley

Imperial Valley farmers know their water is precious and understand that to preserve a way of life that runs back a century they have to grapple with the needs of a drought-stricken state. … In 2003, the Imperial Irrigation District, under pressure from Senator Dianne Feinstein and other federal and state officials, controversially agreed to sell as much as 280,000 acre-feet a year to San Diego.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

After long summer, water pumping resumes

With the harvest ending and demand for water on the decline, senior water-right holders can once more draw from the San Joaquin River, state officials announced this week.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: California lifts restrictions on senior water rights

With the harvest largely over, the State Water Resources Control Board said there’s enough water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin watersheds so that holders of senior water rights could once more divert water from rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Los Angeles Aqueduct flows after dam built for drought is dismantled

With little mountain runoff due to a historic drought, water managers made the unprecedented decision to try to meet legal obligations to keep the Owens River flowing, control dust from a dry lake bed and irrigate pastures where cattle graze instead of sending water to the city.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Grower says Oakdale Irrigation District broke state law with secret water sale

Irrigation leaders illegally agreed to sell Stanislaus River water to outsiders, an Oakdale Irrigation District customer alleges in a formal complaint. … The district has explained the deal in meetings, a news release and an Oct. 18 advertisement in The Modesto Bee.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Even in drought, California water rights politically toxic

It was the worst drought in California’s history. … Facing a crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown decided it might be time to tackle a thorny political subject: water rights. … It was 1978.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought test California’s water rights system (with audio)

Those with the longest rights get top priority; they’re called senior rights holders. But they were not immune to the ongoing drought.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California allows some with historic water rights to pump again

Dozens of California farmers and water agencies that were told to stop drawing river water in June, even though they had what are known as senior water rights, have been allowed to resume pumping.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Some growers can divert water again amid drought, regulators say

State regulators have lifted water-use restrictions that they had previously imposed on a handful of California’s most senior rights holders during the drought.

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

Future of Water: Can California’s arcane water rights system change?

All week, we’ve been looking at how our relationship to water will likely change in the hotter, drier, more populous California of the year 2040. Today, we look at water rights; who can use water and how much.

Western Water Magazine

Allocating Water in a Time of Scarcity: Is it Time to Reform Water Rights?
July/August 2015

This issue looks at how California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Allocating Water in a Time of Scarcity: Is it Time to Reform Water Rights?
July/August 2015

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

(Read the excerpt below from the July/August 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)

Introduction

California’s severe drought has put its water rights system under scrutiny, raising the question whether a complete overhaul is necessary to better allocate water use.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water district to challenge penalty

A water district accused of taking water illegally will have a chance to fight a proposed $1.5 million fine — the first of its kind during the drought.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: U.S. Clean Water law needs new act for the 21st century

On August 5, a costly mistake by an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew spilled millions of liters of toxic mine waste into Colorado’s Animas River. … The list goes on, encompassing chemical spills and coal ash breaches in the East, oil pipeline ruptures in the Midwest and South, dying fisheries and nitrate contamination in the Southeast, even sea lions dying along the Pacific coast because of toxic algae blooms.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Palo Verde Valley farmers and Metropolitan Water District of Southern California find fallowing deal a win-win, so far

In the desert of California, where the Colorado River for decades has turned barren ground into an agricultural bounty, farmers are being paid not to grow crops on a portion of their land so that water can be shipped to thirsty cities on the coast.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Activists see Sonoma County winegrowers’ proposed bill as a ‘water grab’

Environmentalists are mobilizing in protest of a would-be bill backed by the local wine industry that would create an irrigation district intended to protect the water rights of about 1,000 grape growers in the Russian River region.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Judge backs Calif. drought regulators

California’s drought police, slapped down in court just a few weeks ago, have been cleared to go after water districts accused of illegally diverting water.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Judge OKs state water restrictions on farmers

A Sacramento judge has given California water regulators the go-ahead to enforce pumping restrictions on a small Central Valley irrigation district, a decision seen as validation of the state’s broader authority to restrict water during the drought.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Proving illegal water grabs tough in California’s drought

California’s vast network of reservoirs, canals and rivers is among the world’s most engineered water systems, but it is tough to prove when water is illegally siphoned because of sparse metering, infrequent reporting and a complex web of tens of thousands of water rights.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Tracy-area district faces first fine

The stakes got higher Monday for water users across the Central Valley who may be forced to choose between saving their crops or paying a severe penalty.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: State proposes $1.5-million fine of water district for improper diversions

Regulators proposed a record $1.5-million fine Monday against a Northern California irrigation district after it allegedly diverted more than 670 million gallons of water illegally — a rare enforcement action that escalates the legal battle between Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s oldest water rights holders.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State levies $1.5 million fine for illegal water use

California regulators are seeking a $1.5 million penalty from a Tracy-area water district for allegedly illegally tapping the delta for farmers and thousands of homes, marking a significant escalation in the state’s push to get big users to go along with drought-forced reductions.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Delta dispute raises urgent question: Whose water is it? (with video)

As California’s blue-green reservoirs are drained brown during this historic drought, [Dennis] Gardemeyer and other Delta property owners essentially are being accused of stealing. … At the heart of the dispute is California’s complex system of water conveyance.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California plans cease-and-desist water action against farm district

A week after getting slapped down in court, California drought regulators went back on the offensive Thursday in their campaign to curb water use, launching a crackdown against a small irrigation district that allegedly took water illegally from a river in San Joaquin County.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

State issues first action to enforce a water rights curtailment

State regulators Thursday took another step in the escalating battle over drought-related curtailments of thousands of California water rights.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California flexes muscles in water tussle with farmers

California water regulators flexed their muscles by ordering a group of farmers to stop pumping from a branch of the San Joaquin River amid an escalating battle over how much power the state has to protect waterways that are drying up in the drought.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

New curtailment letters issued

State water officials backed down a bit on Wednesday, formally rescinding portions of letters that seemed to require thousands of water users up and down the Central Valley to stop diverting.

Aquafornia news Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG) Natural Resources Law Blog

Legal Commentary: State Water Board rescinds curtailments

Today [July 15] the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a letter rescinding and clarifying its previous curtailment notices. Today’s letter walks away from the strong language of the previous curtailment notices issued by the SWRCB, which the Sacramento Superior Court found coercive and in violation of constitutional due process safeguards in a ruling last Friday. … Friday’s ruling was a setback for the SWRCB and it demonstrated the difficulty in swiftly administering the water rights system during the ongoing critical drought.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Disputed San Joaquin River water will go to west San Joaquin Valley farmers

Federal officials Tuesday will begin releasing a disputed allotment of San Joaquin River water from Millerton Lake to a group of west San Joaquin Valley growers with water rights dating back to the 1870s.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farmers prevail in court

An effort by state officials to stop some Delta farmers from diverting water during the drought amounts to a taking of private property rights without due process, a judge ruled Friday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators

In a significant ruling that could hinder California’s ability to order mass water cutbacks, a judge told state drought regulators Friday they can’t slash the water rights of four Central Valley irrigation districts until each had a chance to defend itself.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Blog: Delta voluntary cuts challenged

The latest lawsuit by a water district with senior rights is significantly different from its predecessors.

Aquafornia news KCRW

The flood of water rights lawsuits begins (audio)

He’s a fifth-generation cattle farmer, who bought land in the 1960’s — with water rights that were granted before 1914. But two weeks ago, the pumps were turned off and there’s no water now in his irrigation canal.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Lawsuits over California water rights are a fight a century in the making

The lawsuits hit the courts within days of the state mailing notices to some Central Valley irrigation districts: They were to stop diverting from rivers and streams because there wasn’t enough water to go around. 

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Drought shows need to untangle California water rights

There is absolutely nothing in California government – or its politics – more complicated and contentious than water rights.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Some water agencies in California consider defying state cuts

A handful of Central Valley water agencies that have been warned to stop pumping water from rivers to farms, in light of the drought, say they’re considering running their pumps anyway. … The State Water Resources Control Board said Wednesday that is not a good idea, warning that the water agencies could face penalties for drawing water illegally.

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

Marin farmers agree not to pump water out of creek to help endangered fish

Farmers, government regulators and elected officials gathered at Star Route Farms outside Bolinas Tuesday to commemorate the auspicious development. Star Route Farms, Paradise Valley Farms and Martinelli Family Ranch have all given up their “riparian” rights to use the creek for irrigation in the dry season from July 1 to December 15.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Setback for Tracy-area farmers

Longtime farmers hoping to block state-imposed cuts suffered a defeat Tuesday after a San Joaquin County Superior Court judge said the case must be heard in another county, potentially leaving those farmers without a legal water supply. But in a new twist, attorneys for the farmers now are questioning whether the cuts actually are required in the first place. 

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Most water rights holders facing cuts miss state compliance deadline

The majority of California growers, irrigation districts and others who have been ordered to stop drawing water from rivers and streams due to worsening drought conditions have failed to register their compliance before an official deadline, officials said Monday.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lawsuits challenge California’s drought plan

The lawsuit, filed in Stanislaus Superior Court, challenges the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision last week to ban diversions by 114 different rights holders in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river watersheds.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto-area irrigation districts sue state over water restrictions

Modesto-area irrigation districts are suing the State Water Resources Control Board after the agency last week curtailed century-old water rights for some of them.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water districts challenge state’s drought order

Three California irrigation districts sued the state on Friday, claiming officials overstepped their authority by ordering farmers with some of the strongest water rights to stop pumping from some rivers during the drought.

Aquafornia news KQED

Blog: Court battles loom over California’s senior water rights

Now that California officials have ordered water cutbacks for some of the oldest and most protected water rights holders in the state, we’re about to see if those orders will stick.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

First lawsuit filed in water rights clash

The Banta-Carbona Irrigation District filed its complaint in San Joaquin County Superior Court, asking a judge to overturn the decision last week by the State Water Resources Control Board to temporarily suspend water rights dating back as far as 1903.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California farmers told to stop irrigating seek court order

Some California farmers say they face financial ruin under orders to stop pumping river water to irrigate their crops this summer amid the state’s relentless drought, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Master-planned community at risk of losing all water within days

Unlike the vast majority of communities in California, Mountain House purchases all its water from a single rural irrigation district. And that agency was covered by the state’s order curtailing water rights for some of those who have held them for more than century due to the state’s worsening drought.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California cuts farmers’ share of scant water

Only once before in the state’s history have the most senior water rights been curtailed. But now, with the drought persisting into a fourth year, state officials say that more reductions for so-called senior water rights holders are nearly certain, and the need for additional cuts will be evaluated weekly.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A thirsty Colorado is battling over who owns raindrops

To encourage conservation, cities and water agencies in California and other states have begun nudging homeowners to use captured rain for their gardens, rather than water from the backyard faucet. But Colorado is one of the last places in the country where rainwater barrels are still largely illegal because of a complex system of water rights in which nearly every drop is spoken for.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California curtails senior water rights

In a dramatic and controversial move that reflects the severity of the drought, California water regulators Friday ordered farmers and others with some of the oldest water rights in the state to stop pulling water out of California’s rivers.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sacramento Valley senior water rights cuts fall unevenly

Even in dry years, water rights that date back before 1914 usually hold strong. However, Friday the State Water Resources Control Board announced water rights would be curtailed even for landowners who had rights dating back to 1903.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

California moves to restrict water pumping by pre-1914 rights holders

For the first time in nearly 40 years, state regulators are telling more than 100 growers and irrigation districts with some of the oldest water rights in California that they have to stop drawing supplies from drought-starved rivers and streams in the Central Valley.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Decades-old water rights in California halted amid drought

Despite California’s drought, Richard and Danna Jones’ cattle grazing pasture has stayed green thanks to water flowing free from a gulch claimed by his grandfather in 1911.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown sees California getting through drought

In a broad-ranging conversation that touched on the “existential threat” posed by man-made global warming, as well as the arcane laws delineating state water rights, [Gov. Jerry] Brown said Californians must learn to live more frugally when it comes to their most precious resource.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As California drought worsens, experts urge water reforms

As mandatory water restrictions took effect Monday across California, a panel of experts called upon the drought-plagued state to upgrade its water infrastructure and reform its antiquated water rights system.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Farmers’ ’senior’ water rights under siege

A 143-year-old piece of paper proves that Rudy Mussi has a legal right to water from the gently meandering Middle River that nourishes his family farm.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California farmers agree to drastically cut water use

California farmers who hold some of the state’s strongest water rights avoided the threat of deep mandatory cuts when the state accepted their proposal to voluntarily reduce consumption by 25 percent amid one of the worst droughts on record.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: California, farmers reach water deal, but enforcement a challenge

When California officials struck an unprecedented conservation deal Friday with a group of farmers who have the strongest claims on the state’s dwindling water supply, it showed no one was immune from the fallout of the drought.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Voluntary cuts approved by state

Delta farmers can voluntarily reduce water use during the drought without capitulating to outside interests who are targeting their water rights, according to supporters of an unprecedented plan approved Friday.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Q&A: California farmers with oldest water rights face cuts

Farmers in drought-stricken California with nearly guaranteed rights to water are bracing for historic orders to stop diverting water from rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought-ridden California faces decision on new water cuts

Farmers along the river delta at the heart of California agriculture expected to get an answer Friday on their surprise offer to give up a quarter of their water this year in exchange for being spared deeper mandatory cutbacks as California responds to the worsening drought.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

California faces a tough test to tame its unquenchable thirst for water

In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Mandatory usage cuts loom even for those with senior water rights

In the 1976-77 drought, the state ordered growers with some of the oldest water rights in California to stop pumping from many rivers and streams. Now, in a sign of the spreading pain of another punishing drought, regulators are preparing to do the same thing.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Delta farmers offer to take 25 percent less water

Dozens of California farmers whose century-old claims to rivers and streams have assured them a nearly endless water supply, at least up until now, are offering to give up a quarter of their water in exchange for a guarantee that the drought-plagued state won’t come clamoring for a whole lot more.  … State officials have not yet acted on the offer.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers in line for more drought cutbacks

State Water Resources Control Board officials said Monday that they expect to issue “curtailment orders” soon to the state’s most senior water rights holders, effectively shutting off the flow of river water to some of the major agricultural districts in California.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Marysville eyes water sale revenue

Searching for ways to bolster Marysville’s budget, the City Council this week said it will explore if the city has water rights that could be turned into revenue.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California farms ordered to stop pumping water from rivers as drought continues

State officials say drought has forced them to order thousands of farms to stop pumping water from two Northern California river systems.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: California drought tests strength of Gold Rush-era water rights

Earlier this year, the State Water Resources Control Board ordered more than 1,000 property owners to prove their water rights. This month, the board warned claim-holders to expect curtailments of their ability to divert water from rivers and streams.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: California orders no water diversions despite legal rights

About 1,500 farms and individuals in the Central Valley were ordered Thursday to stop taking water from rivers and streams for irrigation, the latest move by state regulators to save water amid intensifying drought conditions. … About 100 farms along the Scott River watershed in rural Northern California were also ordered to stop diverting water.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Pipeline advocate William Shatner holds senior water rights

William Shatner generated modest buzz when, in an interview with Yahoo’s David Pogue last week, he proposed a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign to build a $30 billion pipeline to bring water to drought-ravaged California.

Aquafornia news Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG)

Blog: State Water Board orders immediate curtailment of water diversions on San Joaquin, Scott rivers

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Board”) has just issued two water diversion curtailment orders that affect water diversions on the San Joaquin and Scott rivers.  The curtailment notices direct all post-1914 water right holders within the San Joaquin River watershed and junior priority class right holders in the Scott River watershed to cease surface water diversions until further notice.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-area water agencies call state drought program illegal

Representatives of the Placer County Water Agency, San Juan Water District, city of Roseville and Sacramento County Water Agency, in a joint letter, took exception to being lumped in with communities that don’t have strong water rights under California law and largely import their water from other regions.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California’s complicated water rights system (with audio)

You might have water rights in California, but that doesn’t guarantee you’ll have water.  It seems the perhaps government has promised more than it can deliver – a headline that has been widely circulated this week.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Brown says water rights changes coming (with audio)

When settlers first came to California they were allowed to claim rights to the water they used to irrigate their land.

Aquafornia news NPR

Redistribute California’s water? Not without a fight (with audio)

There’s a lot at stake, including your very own nuts, fruit and vegetables, because most of the water that’s up for grabs in California goes to farmers. This year, some farmers will get water, and others will not, simply based on when their land was first irrigated. Consider, for instance, the case of Cannon Michael.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: In California, rights to water exceed the supply

It’s arguable whether California has enough water to meet its actual needs. But it clearly does not have enough to match people’s expectations.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Feather River farmers see 50% water reductions

Even Northern California farmers with some of the best water rights in the state will see their water allocations decreased by 50 percent this year. Districts along the Feather River got the news Wednesday from the Department of Water Resources.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Coachella Valley: At war over water

Deep beneath the Coachella Valley runs the lifeblood of a desert oasis – the basin that supplies drinking water to 400,000 people, sustains lush golf courses and irrigates crops sold around the world.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Tribe fights Coachella Valley water agencies for aquifer rights

In drought-ravaged California, the vast freshwater aquifer beneath the Coachella Valley is a rare bright spot. … But there is growing concern by some that local water agencies are drawing too much out of the aquifer, which supplies water for more than 260,000 people.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pumping halted in excess groundwater case

A San Bernardino County judge finalized a ruling Friday to stop a water district that a lawsuit says is pumping more than its share out of the Rialto-Colton Basin.

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Lake Mendocino shrinking again

Unless significant rain falls this spring, state regulators are likely to repeat last year’s unprecedented curtailment of hundreds of water rights held by farmers and others along the Russian River between Lake Mendocino and Healdsburg.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agua Caliente tribe’s water lawsuit moving to trial

A lawsuit between the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and two local water agencies appears to be heading to trial following a federal judge’s ruling Friday.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water agencies, Agua Caliente tribe spar in federal court

Lawyers for two local water districts and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians wrangled in a federal courtroom Monday, debating whether the tribe has a right to groundwater.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Property rights debate bogs down Modesto Irrigation District

Unusually warm temperatures the past few days have made the four-year drought worse for crops, so Modesto Irrigation District leaders said Tuesday they’re inclined to start farmers’ water season April 12 instead of two weeks later.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley, Delta water rights under scrutiny

Hundreds of property owners across California’s Central Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are scrambling to prove they have a right to divert water from the region’s streams, the result of a state order that comes due in just four days.

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Water rights’ cost draws scrutiny

A provision in California’s landmark 2014 Water Bond Act, Proposition 1, could lead California into overspending on water — and that has sparked concern  from the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal adviser.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Los Angeles agency hits the top in arrogance

The Department of Motor Vehicles may be the state agency that Californians love to hate – undeservedly, for the most part. However, for sheer cussedness and arrogance, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is in a class by itself.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Water rights during drought (with audio)

California’s State Water Resources Control Board met Wednesday to listen to testimony from Central Valley farmers and farm workers who are asking for more water.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Residents, farmers describe drought impacts at marathon State Water Board hearing (with audio)

The California Water Resources Control Board heard emotional testimony for at least 12 hours yesterday from people worried about how the state should manage its dwindling supply of water during the drought.

Aquafornia news Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG)

Blog: State Water Board sets March 6 deadline to document water rights in Sacramento and San Joaquin River watershed and Delta

Landowners, water districts, cities and other water suppliers claiming pre-1914 water rights or riparian water rights in the Sacramento San Joaquin River Watershed and Delta have until March 6, 2015, to submit documentation substantiating their rights to the State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”).

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

State undertakes more scrutiny on water users

Farmers and other water users across the Central Valley soon will be required to share more details about their water rights and how much they are diverting, as state officials sort through allegations of illegal water use in this time of scarcity.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Blog: This just in … State Water Board orders more information from diverters claiming senior Delta water rights

Persons claiming senior water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed will be required to provide the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) detailed information on the water rights they claim and diversions associated with those rights under a new order issued by the State Water Board.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger LLP

Legal Commentary: State Board issues notice of potential curtailment of surface water rights diversions

On Jan. 23, the State Water Resource Control Board issued a Notice of Surface Water Shortage and Potential for Curtailment of Water Right Diversions for the coming year. … While the new Notice does not specify when such curtailment notices will be issued to the affected water rights holders, it is expected that the State Board will follow similar procedures as it did in curtailing water diversions in 2014.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

State Board warns of water curtailments if dry conditions persist

The State Water Resources Control Board advised water rights holders today [Jan. 23] that water diversions may be curtailed in critically dry watersheds again this year if conditions do not improve over the coming months.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Century later, the ‘Chinatown’ water feud ebbs

For 24 years, traveling across the stark and dusty moonscape of what once was a glimmering 110-square-mile lake framed by snow-covered mountains, Ted Schade was a general in the Owens Valley water wars with Los Angeles.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County board removes General Plan policy addressing water rights for unpermitted properties

The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors continued its discussion of the Water Resources section of the General Plan Update at its Monday meeting, beginning by removing a policy pertaining to water rights on properties with unpermitted structures.

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

Commentary: It’s good to be a water lawyer, especially now

The groundwater legislation passed last year says repeatedly that nothing in the law would change existing groundwater rights. I wondered how that would work since the whole point of the legislation is to reduce our current over pumping of groundwater.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Interior opinion upholds Humboldt’s right to promised Trinity water

Elected and tribal officials applauded a U.S. Department of the Interior legal opinion released on Friday, which calls for Humboldt County and downstream water users to receive the annual 50,000 acre-feet of Trinity Reservoir water promised to the area under a law and a contract approved nearly 60 years ago.

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Blog: Groundwater adjudication hearing, part 3

Groundwater adjudications, notoriously expensive and time consuming, emerged as an issue during the development and ultimate passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, and the Brown Administration has made it a priority to consider possible reforms.

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County supervisors hear potential plans for Mad River water exports

The last Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting of 2014 on Tuesday focused on many aspects of the Mad River, with a local water district presenting outlines to potentially transport water out of the county and increase flows for native species, and the board approving an update to its environmental review of current mining operations along the waterway.

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern Calif.

Blog: How California’s water rights make it tough to manage drought (with audio)

After three years of historically dry and hot weather, the images of California’s drought have become familiar: empty fields, brown lawns, dry stream beds. But for every one of those scenes, there are other parts of the state where water has been flowing freely and the effects of drought are hard to see.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Peace amid the water wars: San Joaquin County, East Bay MUD reach deal

Here’s something to be thankful for today: A landmark peace treaty in one of this region’s most enduring water wars. San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District are the primary players behind a deal announced late Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Snow-making a pipe dream for resort owner?

He [Lance Vetesy] owns Leland High Sierra Snow Play east of Pinecrest. … Snow-making ability would all but guarantee him a full season of business every year. … But in California water law, nothing is simple.

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

State Senate hearing focuses on streamlining groundwater rights disputes

The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water today held an informational hearing that focused on developing ways to resolve groundwater rights disputes more quickly. … Sen. Fran Pavley, (D-Aurora Hills), chair of the Senate committee, opened the hearing by saying that following the passage this year of the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act, officials now want to look at the issue of groundwater adjudications.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Limits end on most California stream diversions

Thousands of water users across California can again draw water directly from streams after state officials Wednesday lifted restrictions on one of the last major blocks of water rights, imposed in June due to the drought.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Editorial: 100 years later, the dust settles in the Owens Valley

One hundred and one years after Los Angeles opened the aqueduct to draw water from the Owens Valley, the city has reached a settlement over how it will control dust blowing off the dry Owens Lake bed.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

New dust-busting method ends Los Angeles’ longtime feud with Owens Valley

Under an agreement between the city [of Los Angeles] and Owens Valley air quality regulators, Los Angeles will use a new, organic method of suppressing airborne dust from the dry bed of Owens Lake, which L.A. drained to slake its thirst in the last century.

Aquafornia news KCRA Sacramento

Who owns California’s water?

Is there enough water? Well, not if everyone with rights to the water wants it. One California county has more than 1,400 people with water rights.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Farmers sue state over drought water decisions

East San Joaquin Valley growers are suing state water authorities over drought decisions, claiming east-side communities and farms got no federal water after the state illegally denied deliveries to a separate group of landowners with senior water rights.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Sacramento Valley water transfer idea leaves locals fuming

There’s a plan for water transfers could move up to 511,000 acre-feet of water each year for the next 10 years from the Sacramento Valley to the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area. … The Bureau [of Reclamation] is in the middle of writing the “Long-Term Water Transfers Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report.”

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tribe, agencies lay out arguments in water lawsuit

Two water districts, the federal government, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are laying out their arguments in a lawsuit over water, focusing on the question of whether the tribe has rights to groundwater.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5. “Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown takes the long view on water

Battles over water rights, wet years flowing into dry ones, Jerry Brown gubernatorial tenures – in California, some storylines recur.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

The West is bone dry. Here’s how to help

Drought is rampant these days in many parts of the American West, so consider this a pretty sweet gift: You’ve just been given the rights to some water. … Your job is to turn around and use that resource in the most valuable way possible.

Aquafornia news California WaterBlog by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences

Blog: Modernizing drought water allocations

The State Water Resources Control Board recently solicited public comments on how to improve its drought curtailment of water rights. Here is a summary of insights and recommendations from a group of seven California water experts.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Plans for five new Glenn-Colusa wells face a tough crowd

Five new wells are on the drawing board for Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, the biggest surface water district in the Sacramento Valley. … Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District is considering the five wells as a backup to surface water during dry and critically dry years, presenters explained.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water for Coachella Valley farms untouched by drought

One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Does California Need a Water Court?
July/August 2014

Before attorneys wrangled in courtrooms over questions of water rights, people typically took matters into their own hands. If your neighbor up river was damming water that affected your supply, it wasn’t unheard of that you would simply sneak up in the middle of the night and blow up the dam.

Product

River Report Newsletter Subscription

To promote a broader understanding of the current issues involving the Colorado River, the Foundation, has developed River Report, a 12-page newsletter devoted entirely to topics surrounding this vital waterway. Each newsletter includes an in-depth news story on a timely subject essential to the Colorado River.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (20 min. DVD)

20-minute version of the 2012 documentary The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues related to complex water management disputes in the Klamath River Basin. Narrated by actress Frances Fisher.

Video

The Klamath Basin: A Restoration for the Ages (60 min. DVD)

For over a century, the Klamath River Basin along the Oregon and California border has faced complex water management disputes. As relayed in this 2012, 60-minute public television documentary narrated by actress Frances Fisher, the water interests range from the Tribes near the river, to energy producer PacifiCorp, farmers, municipalities, commercial fishermen, environmentalists – all bearing legitimate arguments for how to manage the water. After years of fighting, a groundbreaking compromise may soon settle the battles with two epic agreements that hold the promise of peace and fish for the watershed. View an excerpt from the documentary here.

Video

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Maps & Posters

Klamath River Watershed Map
Published 2011

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Klamath River Watershed. The map text explains the many issues facing this vast, 15,000-square-mile watershed, including fish restoration; agricultural water use; and wetlands. Also included are descriptions of the separate, but linked, Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and the Klamath Hydroelectric Agreement, and the next steps associated with those agreements. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Maps & Posters

Delta Sustainability Map
Published 2006

This beautifully illustrated 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing and display in any office or classroom, focuses on the theme of Delta sustainability.

The text, photos and graphics explain issues related to land subsidence, levees and flooding, urbanization and fish and wildlife protection. An inset map illustrates the tidal action that increases the salinity of the Delta’s waterways. Development of the map was funded by a grant from the California Bay-Delta Authority.

Maps & Posters

Truckee River Basin Map
Published 2005

This beautiful 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, displays the rivers, lakes and reservoirs, irrigated farmland, urban areas and Indian reservations within the Truckee River Basin, including the Newlands Project, Pyramid Lake and Lake Tahoe. Map text explains the issues surrounding the use of the Truckee-Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe water quality improvement efforts, fishery restoration and the effort to reach compromise solutions to many of these issues. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use …  Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (10 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2013

The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2011

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project explores the history and development of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), California’s largest surface water delivery system. In addition to the history of the project, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state, and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2010

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the Delta explores the competing uses and demands on California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Included in the guide are sections on the history of the Delta, its role in the state’s water system, and its many complex and competing issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, and water distribution.

Aquapedia background

Water Rights in California

California’s growth has closely paralleled an evolving and complex system of water rights.

After California became a state in 1850, it followed the practice of Eastern states and adopted riparian rights – water rights laws based on ownership of land bordering a waterway.  The riparian property owner—one who lives next to the river— possesses the right to use that water, a right that cannot be transferred apart from the land.

Water Marketing
Aquapedia background

Water Marketing

Water marketing is the transfer or sale of water or water rights from one user to another, typically from an agricultural to an urban water agency, often without investing in new infrastructure

Most exchanges involve a transfer of the resource itself, not a transfer of the right to use the water.

Reallocating the available water on a supply-and-demand basis is viewed by proponents as the best financial, political and environmental means of accommodating an increase in population.

Riparian Rights
Aquapedia background

Riparian Rights

Surface water is water found in rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds. There are a limited number of instances in which water in a defined underground channel is classified as surface water. There are several types of water rights that apply to surface water.

A landowner whose property borders a river has a right to use water from that river on his land. This is called riparian rights.

Aquapedia background

Pueblo Water Rights

In addition to riparian and appropriative water rights, there are two other types of surface water rights in California: pueblo rights and federal reserved rights.

Aquapedia background

Prescriptive Rights

Prescriptive Rights are water use rights gained illicitly that evolve into a title. Typically this occurs with rights to chronically overdrafted groundwater basins gained through trespass or unauthorized use.

In California, the California Supreme Court developed the doctrine of prescriptive rights in 1949.

Aquapedia background

Henry J. Vaux Jr.

Henry J. Vaux Jr. is the professor of resource economics, emeritus, of the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, Riverside.

Aquapedia background

Water Rights Terms

Adjudicate -To determine rights by a lawsuit in court.

Groundwater Banking
Aquapedia background

Groundwater Banking

Water banking is a form of conjunctive use in which water is allocated for current use, or stored in surface water reservoirs or in aquifers for later use.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Adjudication

When multiple parties withdraw water from the same aquifer, groundwater pumpers can ask the court to adjudicate, or hear arguments for and against, to better define the rights that various entities have to use groundwater resources. This is known as  groundwater adjudication. [See also California water rights and Groundwater Law.]

Aquapedia background

Federal Reserved Rights

Federal reserved rights were created when the United States reserved land from the public domain for uses such as Indian reservations, military bases and national parks, forests and monuments.  [See also Pueblo Rights].

Appropriative Rights
Aquapedia background

Appropriative Rights

California law allows surface water to be diverted at one point and used (appropriated) beneficially at a separate point.

This is in contrast to a riparian right, which is based on ownership of the property adjacent to the water.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Meeting the Co-equal Goals? The Bay Delta Conservation Plan
May/June 2013

This issue of Western Water looks at the BDCP and the Coalition to Support Delta Projects, issues that are aimed at improving the health and safety of the Delta while solidifying California’s long-term water supply reliability.

Western Water Magazine

How Much Water Does the Delta Need?
July/August 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the issues associated with the State Water Board’s proposed revision of the water quality Bay-Delta Plan, most notably the question of whether additional flows are needed for the system, and how they might be provided.

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater banking, a water management strategy with appreciable benefits but not without challenges and controversy.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Whose Water Is It? Area of Origin Water Rights
March/April 2010

“Let me state, clearly and finally, the Interior Department is fully and completely committed to the policy that no water which is needed in the Sacramento Valley will be sent out of it. There is no intent on the part of the Bureau of Reclamation ever to divert from the Sacramento Valley a single acre-foot of water which might be used in the valley now or later.” – J.A. Krug, Secretary of the Interior, Oct. 12, 1948, speech at Oroville, CA

Western Water Magazine

Whose Water Is It? Area of Origin Water Rights
March/April 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the area of origin laws, what they mean to those who claim their protections and the possible implications of the Tehama Colusa Canal Authority’s lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation.

Commands