Opinion: California’s historic water rights come under new scrutiny, and that is a good thing
Over the last few years, we have heard plenty of disturbing stories about wells going dry in the small, poor towns across the San Joaquin Valley, such as East Porterville and East Orosi. In 2012, California reacted by declaring access to water to be a human right, but with little money attached to stop what was now a human-rights violation. More recently, alarms have been ringing about the state seeking to abolish its longstanding system of water rights. This concern is overblown, at least at the moment, and a little refining of the state water rights system might make it easier to supply poor, rural communities with some water. The 2012 law is little more than a values statement, enacted after a rash of drying-up domestic wells made international headlines.
-Written by Thomas Holyoke, professor of political science at California State University, Fresno; Cordie Qualle, a lecturer in civil and geomatics engineering at California State University, Fresno; and Laura Ramos, interim director of research and education at the California Water Institute at California State University, Fresno.