The public trust doctrine requires the state to hold in trust designated resources for the benefit of the people. Traditionally, the public trust applied to commerce and fishing in navigable waters, but its uses were expanded in California in 1971 to include fish, wildlife, habitat and recreation.
In California, public trust was most notably invoked in a landmark 1983 case involving water use at Mono Lake.
The California Supreme Court begins its landmark 1983 Mono Lake decision with these powerful words: “The public trust is an affirmation of the duty of the state to protect the people’s common heritage of streams, lakes, marshlands and tidelands…” … The focal point of the [Defense Trust] weekend was the presentation of the Defender of the Trust Award, which celebrates individuals who champion Mono Lake and advocate for the public trust. This year’s recipient was hydrologist and hydrogeographer Peter Vorster.
A lawsuit by a group of young Americans, which asserts the U.S. government is harming them by having created a national energy system that causes climate change, is on hold again after a federal appeals court Thursday granted the Trump administration’s motion for a temporary stay. … The young plaintiffs also accuse the government of failing to protect natural resources as a “public trust” for future generations.
A group of young people can sue the federal government over its climate change policies, the Supreme Court said Friday. Since it was first filed in 2015, the government has requested several times that Juliana v. United States be dismissed. … Leigh-Ann Draheim, whose son Levi, 11, is the youngest plaintiff, said the case was based in part on the public trust doctrine. “People have the right to running water, clean water” and clean air, Draheim told NPR.
PUMPING NEAR SCOTT RIVER IN SISKIYOU COUNTY SPARKS APPELLATE CASE THAT EXTENDS PUBLIC TRUST TO SOME GROUNDWATER; EXPLORE MAPS AND GUIDES TO LEARN MORE
In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling forced Los Angeles to reduce its take of water from Eastern Sierra creeks that fed Mono Lake. It marked a dramatic shift in California water law by extending the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that fed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves are not. Some 35 years later, an appellate court in Sacramento for the first time has concluded that the same public trust doctrine used in the Mono Lake decision also applies to groundwater feeding the navigable Scott River in a picturesque corner of far Northern California.
The lawsuit filed in 2015 argues that government officials have known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil fuels was causing climate change and that policies on oil and gas deprive the young people of life, liberty and property. They also say the government has failed to protect natural resources as a “public trust” for future generations.
In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling extended the public trust doctrine to tributary creeks that feed Mono Lake, which is a navigable water body even though the creeks themselves were not. The ruling marked a dramatic shift in water law and forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from those creeks in the Eastern Sierra to preserve the lake.
Now, a state appellate court has for the first time extended that same public trust doctrine to groundwater that feeds a navigable river, in this case the Scott River flowing through a picturesque valley of farms and alfalfa in Siskiyou County in the northern reaches of California.
In 1983, a landmark California Supreme Court ruling forced Los Angeles to cut back its take of water from Eastern Sierra creeks that fed Mono Lake. Some 35 years later, an appellate court concluded the same public trust doctrine that applied in the Mono Lake case also applies to groundwater that feeds a navigable river in a picturesque corner of far Northern California. But will this latest ruling have the same impact on California water resources as the historic Mono Lake decision?
California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it. Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water.
Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.
Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.
The UC Berkeley School of Law along with stakeholders in Mono Lake will convene a symposium in Sacramento on Nov. 17 to mark the 20th anniversary of the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to integrate the Water Code, Fish and Game Code and the common law of public trust to protect the lake and its tributary creeks.
Water nerds unite! You’re not going to want to miss this opportunity: the Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present, and Future symposium on November 17, 2014, in Sacramento, California. … Co-sponsors of the event: UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment; UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources; the Water Education Foundation; Mono Lake Committee; California Trout; and the Water and Power Law Group.
This drought year, as in those past, California water regulators have given away to cities and farms some river flows critical to fish and wildlife. … There are, however, legal backstops to prevent harmful reductions in fish flows, even during a drought as severe as this one.
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.
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 (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.
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.
Rooted in Roman law, the public trust doctrine recognizes the public right to many natural resources including “the air, running water, the sea and its shore.”
The public trust doctrine requires the sovereign, or state, to hold in trust designated resources for the benefit of the people. Traditionally, the public trust applied to commerce and fishing in navigable waters, but its uses were expanded in California in 1971 to include fish, wildlife, habitat and recreation.
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.