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 The Hill

Arizona tribes resolve decades-long water rights dispute

Leaders of the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe gathered Wednesday to sign off on a $5 billion water rights settlement that has taken decades. “Today marks a very historic day for the three tribes that we have here,” said Craig Andrews, vice chairman of the Hopi Tribal Council, at the signing ceremony. “This is not just an Indian water settlement; it is an Arizona water settlement,” he added. The agreement stems from the recently introduced Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement Act of 2024, which would authorize the $5 billion to finance critical water infrastructure projects.  

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Aquafornia news E&E News by POLITICO

Historic water rights deal seeks to keep flows in Colorado River

Tucked between an interstate and a mountainside in the base of a steep canyon in western Colorado, a small hydropower station has long staked an outsize claim on the Colorado River. That’s because the 115-year-old Shoshone Generating Station in Glenwood Springs owns something unique in the parched West: 1 million acre-feet of water rights, some of the oldest and largest in the state. Turning on the tap at the power facility can change how water flows on both sides of the Continental Divide: boosting flows west to farmers, ranchers and rural communities all the way to the Utah border, or curbing facilities that funnel it east to the Front Range and population centers like Denver and its suburbs. All of that influence means that as the aging facility approaches a likely retirement in coming years, who controls those flows is significant in a state often split between its rural West and urban East, demarcated by the Rocky Mountains.

Related hydropower blog:

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Navajo, Hopi want Congress to act soon on tribal water legislation

Lawmakers from both parties have introduced legislation in Congress after three Arizona tribal nations came together to successfully negotiate a sweeping Indian water settlement. … The settlement will resolve the most significant outstanding water claims in Arizona and bring water to residents of the Navajo, Hopi and Southern San Juan Paiute tribes, among many other benefits. Leaders say it’s critical to move the legislation forward, not only because of the political situation, but because talks are underway to reduce water use on the Colorado River.  … The legislation will authorize $5 billion in federal funding for water infrastructure on the sovereign territories of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, and the San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe, the largest water project for an Indian settlement.

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Aquafornia news The Cool Down

Colorado River water rights sale by private company might set a dangerous precedent: ‘We’ve opened Pandora’s box’

A private company supported by global investors bought nearly 500 acres of land in a tiny Arizona town and sold its water rights to a Phoenix suburb for a $14 million profit.  … Greenstone Resource Partners LLC bought agricultural land in Cibola, Arizona (population around 200), and sold the water rights to suburban Queen Creek, known for lush golf courses and resort pools. Water previously used to irrigate Cibola farms now flows through a canal to provide water to master-planned communities over 200 miles away. … Greenstone bought farmland about a decade ago, but it was actually part of an investment plan to divert water from the area for profit. … “I’m afraid we’ve opened Pandora’s box,” Holly Irwin, a local county supervisor, said about the Greenstone deal, per the Guardian. Companies like Greenstone, tied to real estate developers and big banks, now have a precedent to falsely pose as farms and take water away from people living on the land.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Imperial Irrigation District set to pay farmers to use less water

Farmers who grow hay in the Imperial Valley will soon be eligible to receive cash payments in exchange for temporarily shutting off water to their fields for up to two months this year. Under a program approved by the board of the Imperial Irrigation District, farmers can now apply for federal funds to compensate them for harvesting less hay as part of an effort to ease strains on the Colorado River. Paying growers to leave fields dry and fallow for part of the year represents a major new step by the district to help boost the levels of the river’s reservoirs, which have been depleted by chronic overuse, years of drought and higher temperatures caused by climate change. The Imperial Irrigation District delivers the single largest share of the Colorado River’s water to farmlands that produce hay for cattle as well as many of the country’s vegetables. District officials … say the approach is aimed at avoiding longer-term fallowing of crops that would take farmland out of production and bring a heavier blow to food production and the area’s economy.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Friday Top of the Scroll: California environmental group sues U.S. Forest Service over Arrowhead bottled water operation

A Southern California environmental group is suing the U.S. Forest Service for allowing bottled water company BlueTriton Brands to pipe water out of the San Bernardino National Forest. The nonprofit group Save Our Forest Assn. filed the lawsuit in federal court, arguing the Forest Service violated federal laws by allowing the company to continue piping water from boreholes and water tunnels in the San Bernardino Mountains. The environmental group said the extraction of water, which is bottled and sold as Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water, has dramatically reduced the flow of Strawberry Creek and is causing significant environmental harm. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Kern pistachio farmer ordered to pay $30 million in back fees to high desert groundwater agency

An Orange County court on Friday approved an injunction mandating that Mojave Pistachios LLC pay $30 million in back fees owed to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority for pumping groundwater without an allocation in Kern County’s eastern desert. That $30 million is the accumulation of a $2,130-per-acre-foot fee for non-allocated pumping that was established by the authority in its groundwater sustainability plan and approved by the state back in 2022. … Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, groundwater agencies are mandated to stem over pumping and maintain a balanced aquifer, meaning more water isn’t perpetually taken out than goes back in. The agencies are empowered to set fees and enforce pumping allotments in order to achieve that balance by 2040. The Indian Wells Valley is severely overdrafted with only about 7,600 acre feet of natural inflow every year and 28,000 acre feet of annual demand. Mojave Pistachios and others dispute those numbers, claiming there’s far more water in the basin than the authority has acknowledged.

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Aquafornia news CBS 13 - Sacramento

Where is California Forever getting the water for its proposed new city of 400,000 people?

California Forever released a report Tuesday addressing one of the biggest questions surrounding its billionaire-backed push to build a new city on Solano County farmland: where exactly they are getting the water to sustain a community of up to 400,000 people? Leaders say this initial review found they have secured enough water for the first stage of buildout at 100,000 residents and laid out the company’s plan for how they say they will scale their water usage for when the community grows by four times.

Related Articles:

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California tribal members are reclaiming the ‘land of the flowing water’

The vast territory known as the Owens Valley was home for centuries to Native Americans who lived along its rivers and creeks fed by snowmelt that cascaded down the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Then came European settlers, and over time, tribe members lost access to nearly all of that land. Eventually, the water was lost, too: In the early 20th century, the developers of Los Angeles famously built a 226-mile-long aqueduct from Owens Lake to the city. … Owens Lake is now a patchwork of saline pools covered in pink crystals and wetlands studded with gravel mounds designed to catch dust. And today, the four recognized tribes in the area have less than 2,000 acres of reservation land, estimated Teri Red Owl, a local Native American leader. But things are changing, tribal members say. They have recently reclaimed corners of the valley, buoyed by growing momentum across the country to return land to Indigenous stewardship, also known as the “Land Back” movement. 

Aquafornia news SJV Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Proposed state cuts would sever water lifeline for tens of thousands of disadvantaged San Joaquin Valley residents

More than 20,000 San Joaquin Valley residents could be left high and dry, literally, by Sacramento politicians intent on using $17.5 million that had paid for water trucked to their homes to help fill California’s gaping two-year $56 billion deficit. A local nonprofit that has been hauling water to those residents  sent a letter recently to Governor Gavin Newsom and top leaders in the Legislature begging them to reinstate the money in the ongoing budget negotiations. “Cutting funding for such a crucial program would have devastating effects on rural and disadvantaged communities by immediately cutting them off from their sole source of water supply, and doing so with no warning,” states the June 11 letter from Self-Help Enterprises, a Visalia-based nonprofit that helps low-income valley residents with housing and water needs. 

Aquafornia news Cowboy State Daily

California, other states still grabbing for Wyoming’s share of Colorado River water

Every snowflake or drop of rain that falls in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains eventually plays a part in quenching the water needs of 20 million Californians, and the demand only seems to be rising. Meanwhile, the amount of water available from the Colorado River, which is partly fed by the Green River flowing out of the Wind River range, is at best barely holding steady. That means that as a headwaters state, Wyoming could start feeling pressure from those downriver to give up more. 

Aquafornia news CNN

A water war is looming between Mexico and the US. Neither side will win

Tensions are rising in a border dispute between the United States and Mexico. But this conflict is not about migration; it’s about water. Under an 80-year-old treaty, the United States and Mexico share waters from the Colorado River and the Rio Grande, respectively. But in the grip of severe drought and searing temperatures, Mexico has fallen far behind in deliveries, putting the country’s ability to meet its obligations in serious doubt. Some politicians say they cannot give what they do not have. It’s a tough argument to swallow for farmers in South Texas, also struggling with a dearth of rain. They say the lack of water from Mexico is propelling them into crisis, leaving the future of farming in the balance. Some Texas leaders have called on the Biden administration to withhold aid from Mexico until it makes good on the shortfall.

Aquafornia news KPBS Public Media - San Diego

Study says water transfer deal is raising dust and draining the Salton Sea

The Salton Sea is a terminal saltwater lake. It’s a flooded basin with no natural outlet, similar to the Great Salt Lake or the Aral Sea. And the Salton Sea is shrinking. One of the reasons for that is the Imperial Water Transfer deal that has brought hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water to San Diego over the last two decades. The deal, signed 21 years ago, meant the Imperial Valley began transferring excess water from the valley’s farm fields to San Diego’s water taps. That meant a lot less farm runoff that had been sustaining the Salton Sea. San Diego State University economics professor Ryan Abman said the biggest effects of that conservation plan were seen about eight years into the agreement. “So really, after 2011, we see a noticeable increase in the rate of decline of the water level and that leads to an increase in the increased rate of playa exposure. So more of this dust-emitting surface is being exposed every single year,” Abman said.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Opinion: CA voters to decide if clean air, water are human right

In the Golden State, we pride ourselves on our future-facing environmental values and our climate leadership. At the same time, nearly 1 million residents, primarily in disadvantaged communities, are without access to clean drinking water, and California cities such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fresno are burdened year after year by some of the dirtiest, most polluted air in the nation. This glaring duality underscores the failure of our current legal framework to ensure the fundamental rights of all Californians to clean air, water and a healthy environment. It’s time for a change. It’s time for California to enshrine this right into our state constitution. The inalienable rights of life, liberty, safety and happiness guaranteed in the state constitution are under threat by a climate crisis that negatively impacts the health and well-being of all Californians.
-Written by Terry Tamminen and James Strock, former secretaries of the California Environmental Protection Agency. Alan Lloyd, who also contributed to this piece, is also a former secretary of the California EPA.​

Aquafornia news E&E News

California lawmaker drops plan to regulate senior water rights holders

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks is killing her proposal to increase state regulators’ authority over the owners of California’s oldest, most senior water rights amid intense opposition from water agencies, farmers and business groups. Wicks’ legislative director Zak Castillo-Krings confirmed Tuesday that she was pulling the bill, A.B. 1337, which passed the Assembly last year but has been awaiting a hearing in the Senate. The decision comes after water users reached a deal last week with Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan on a bill, A.B. 460, to increase fines for water theft. Both bills emerged last year after three years of historic drought exposed the state’s limits in overseeing water use.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Tribal officials: Colorado River talks ‘nowhere near sufficient’

Native American tribal leaders with a stake in the Colorado River Basin have regular meetings with top Interior Department officials, can claim progress toward major water rights settlements, and often appear on panels at key conferences with federal and state leaders. It’s a significant improvement compared to decades of exclusion of Indigenous people on decisions over the 1,450-mile-long river that supports 40 million people across seven states. But it’s also not enough, according to officials from some of those tribes — who argue their role still falls short of equal footing with states.

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources

News release: California and tribal partners secure critical water supply to support Native American farmers

Working together to support local Tribal farmers, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe have expedited two water transfers to meet immediate water supply needs and to address long-term demands north of the Tulare Lake area. Working with the Tulare Lake Irrigation District, DWR and the Tachi Yokut Tribe entered into a contractual agreement to institute both a temporary and permanent transfer of water resulting in over 600-acre feet of additional water for the area. 

Aquafornia news Wine Industry Advisor

Drip drop: California’s water supply is replenishing — but unevenly

… All might be well in Lodi, but some other regions reported cuts in their 2024 water supply. In the Westlands Water District, which manages the water supply on the westside of Fresno and Kings counties, a Westlands spokeswoman said the agency was allocated less water than it had contracted for: “[It’s] an incredibly disappointing and unjustifiably low allocation for our district water users,” she said.  How is this possible, given the state’s historic rain and snow in the 2023 water year and optimistic forecasts for the 2024 water year? As of May 31, precipitation stood at 104% of normal for the state, while major reservoirs are at 118% of normal, according to figures compiled by California Water Watch.

Related article: 

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo.

The future of the Colorado River won’t be decided soon, states say

The future of the Colorado River is in the hands of seven people. They rarely appear together in public. [Last week], they did just that – speaking on stage at a water law conference at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The solution to the Colorado River’s supply-demand imbalance will be complicated. Their message in Boulder was simple: These things take time. “We’re 30 months out,” said John Entsminger, Nevada’s top water negotiator. “We’re very much in the second or third inning of this baseball game that we’re playing here.” The audience was mostly comprised of the people who will feel the impact of their decisions most sharply – leaders from some of the 30 Native American tribes that use Colorado River water, nonprofit groups that advocate for the plants and animals living along its banks, and managers of cities and farms that depend on its flows.

Related Colorado basin water supply articles: 

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Upper Basin tribes gain permanent foothold in Colorado River talks

Six tribes in the Upper Colorado River Basin, including two in Colorado, have gained long-awaited access to discussions about the basin’s water issues — talks that were formerly limited to states and the federal government. Under an agreement finalized this month, the tribes will meet every two months to discuss Colorado River issues with an interstate water policy commission, the Upper Colorado River Commission, or UCRC. It’s the first time in the commission’s 76-year history that tribes have been formally included, and the timing is key as negotiations about the river’s future intensify. … Most immediately, the commission wants a key number: How much water goes unused by tribes and flows down to the Lower Basin?

Related tribal water articles: 

Announcement

FLASH SALE: Water Maps & Guides on Sale for Nation Environmental Education Week
20 Percent Discount Good Through April 27

Our popular water maps don the office walls of many in the water world, and our Layperson’s Guides are the go-to resource for impartial overviews of key water topics and landmarks across California and the Southwest.

In recognition of Earth Day and National Environmental Education Week, we’re offering a 20 percent discount through April 27 on these educational products:

Take advantage of our discounted prices today! Sale ends Saturday! 

Publication Colorado River Basin Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin
Updated 2024

Cover of Layperson's Guide to the Colorado River Basin

Learn the history and challenges facing the West’s most dramatic and developed river. 

The Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin introduces the 1,450-mile river that sustains 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland spanning seven states and parts of northern Mexico.

The 28-page primer explains how the river’s water is shared and managed as the Southwest transitions to a hotter and drier climate.

Aquafornia news Western Water

California to uncloak water rights as it moves records online

… In California, just figuring out who holds a water right requires a trip to a downtown Sacramento storage room crammed with millions of paper and microfilmed records dating to the mid-1800s. Even the state’s water rights enforcers struggle to determine who is using what. … Come next year, however, the board expects to have all records electronically accessible to the public. Officials recently started scanning records tied to an estimated 45,000 water rights into an online database. They’re also designing a system that will give real-time data on how much water is being diverted from rivers and streams across the state. … Proponents say the information technology upgrade will help the state and water users better manage droughts, establish robust water trading markets and ensure water for fish and the environment.

Related article: 

JD Supra: Water regulation in the Western states: California’s 2023 legislative proposal highlights

California to uncloak water rights as it moves records online
WESTERN WATER SPOTLIGHT: State also aims to make water use data readily available to public

For a state that prides itself on technological innovation, California is surprisingly antiquated when it comes to accessing fundamental facts about its most critical natural resource – water.

Most anywhere else in the West, basic water rights information such as who is using how much water, for what purpose, when, and where can be pulled up on a laptop or smartphone.

Tribes Gain Clout as Colorado River Shrinks
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Tribes hold key state-appointed posts for first time as their water rises in value

A CAP canal in North PhoenixThe climate-driven shrinking of the Colorado River is expanding the influence of Native American tribes over how the river’s flows are divided among cities, farms and reservations across the Southwest.

The tribes are seeing the value of their largely unused river water entitlements rise as the Colorado dwindles, and they are gaining seats they’ve never had at the water bargaining table as government agencies try to redress a legacy of exclusion.

Aquafornia news Ag Alert

Summit tackles water challenges facing California

Below-average precipitation and snowpack during 2020-22 and depleted surface and groundwater supplies pushed California into a drought emergency that brought curtailment orders and calls for modernizing water rights. At the Water Education Foundation annual water summit last week in Sacramento, Eric Oppenheimer, chief deputy director of the California State Water Resources Control Board, discussed what he described as the state’s “antiquated” water rights system. He spoke before some 150 water managers, government officials, farmers, environmentalists and others as part of the event where interests come together to collaborate on some of the state’s most challenging water issues.

Related articles: 

Tour Nick Gray

Northern California Tour 2024
Field Trip - October 16-18

Click here to register!

Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833

Upper Colorado River States Add Muscle as Decisions Loom on the Shrinking River’s Future
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Upper Basin States Seek Added Leverage to Protect Their River Shares Amid Difficult Talks with California and the Lower Basin

The White River winds and meanders through a valley.The states of the Lower Colorado River Basin have traditionally played an oversized role in tapping the lifeline that supplies 40 million people in the West. California, Nevada and Arizona were quicker to build major canals and dams and negotiated a landmark deal that requires the Upper Basin to send predictable flows through the Grand Canyon, even during dry years.

But with the federal government threatening unprecedented water cuts amid decades of drought and declining reservoirs, the Upper Basin states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico are muscling up to protect their shares of an overallocated river whose average flows in the Upper Basin have already dropped 20 percent over the last century.

They have formed new agencies to better monitor their interests, moved influential Colorado River veterans into top negotiating posts and improved their relationships with Native American tribes that also hold substantial claims to the river.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2024
Field Trip - March 13-15

Tour participants gathered for a group photo in front of Hoover DamThis tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hilton Garden Inn Las Vegas Strip South
7830 S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89123

California Water Agencies Hoped A Deluge Would Recharge Their Aquifers. But When It Came, Some Couldn’t Use It
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: January storms jump-started recharge projects in badly overdrafted San Joaquin Valley, but hurdles with state permits and infrastructure hindered some efforts

An intentionally flooded almond orchard in Tulare CountyIt was exactly the sort of deluge California groundwater agencies have been counting on to replenish their overworked aquifers.

The start of 2023 brought a parade of torrential Pacific storms to bone dry California. Snow piled up across the Sierra Nevada at a near-record pace while runoff from the foothills gushed into the Central Valley, swelling rivers over their banks and filling seasonal creeks for the first time in half a decade.    

Suddenly, water managers and farmers toiling in one of the state’s most groundwater-depleted regions had an opportunity to capture stormwater and bank it underground. Enterprising agencies diverted water from rushing rivers and creeks into manmade recharge basins or intentionally flooded orchards and farmland. Others snagged temporary permits from the state to pull from streams they ordinarily couldn’t touch.

Tour Nick Gray

Eastern Sierra Tour 2023
Field Trip - September 12-15

This special Foundation water tour journeyed along the Eastern Sierra from the Truckee River to Mono Lake, through the Owens Valley and into the Mojave Desert to explore a major source of water for Southern California, this year’s snowpack and challenges for towns, farms and the environment.

Grand Sierra Resort
2500 E 2nd St
Reno, NV 89595

As Colorado River Flows Drop and Tensions Rise, Water Interests Struggle to Find Solutions That All Can Accept
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Chorus of experts warn climate change has rendered old assumptions outdated about what the Colorado River can provide, leaving painful water cuts as the only way forward

Photo shows Hoover Dam’s intake towers protruding from the surface of Lake Mead near Las Vegas, where water levels have dropped to record lows amid a 22-year drought. When the Colorado River Compact was signed 100 years ago, the negotiators for seven Western states bet that the river they were dividing would have ample water to meet everyone’s needs – even those not seated around the table.

A century later, it’s clear the water they bet on is not there. More than two decades of drought, lake evaporation and overuse of water have nearly drained the river’s two anchor reservoirs, Lake Powell on the Arizona-Utah border and Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Climate change is rendering the basin drier, shrinking spring runoff that’s vital for river flows, farms, tribes and cities across the basin – and essential for refilling reservoirs.

The states that endorsed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 – and the tribes and nation of Mexico that were excluded from the table – are now straining to find, and perhaps more importantly accept, solutions on a river that may offer just half of the water that the Compact assumed would be available. And not only are solutions not coming easily, the relationships essential for compromise are getting more frayed.

Northern California Tour 2023
Field Trip - October 18-20

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833

A Colorado River Tribal Leader Seeks A Voice In the River’s Future–And Freedom to Profit From Its Water
WESTERN WATER Q&A: CRIT Chair Amelia Flores Says Allowing Tribe to Lease Or Store Water Off Reservation Could Aid Broader Colorado River Drought Response and Fund Irrigation Repairs

Amelia Flores, chairwoman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.As water interests in the Colorado River Basin prepare to negotiate a new set of operating guidelines for the drought-stressed river, Amelia Flores wants her Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to be involved in the discussion. And she wants CRIT seated at the negotiating table with something invaluable to offer on a river facing steep cuts in use: its surplus water.

CRIT, whose reservation lands in California and Arizona are bisected by the Colorado River, has some of the most senior water rights on the river. But a federal law enacted in the late 1700s, decades before any southwestern state was established, prevents most tribes from sending any of its water off its reservation. The restrictions mean CRIT, which holds the rights to nearly a quarter of the entire state of Arizona’s yearly allotment of river water, is missing out on financial gain and the chance to help its river partners.

Northern California Tour 2022
Field Trip - October 12-14

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape while learning about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Water Education Foundation
2151 River Plaza Drive, Suite 205
Sacramento, CA 95833
Tour Nick Gray

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2022
Field Trip - November 2-3

This tour traveled along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

Hampton Inn & Suites Fresno
327 E Fir Ave
Fresno, CA 93720

As Drought Shrinks the Colorado River, A SoCal Giant Seeks Help from River Partners to Fortify its Local Supply
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Metropolitan Water District's wastewater recycling project draws support from Arizona and Nevada, which hope to gain a share of Metropolitan's river supply

Metropolitan Water District's advanced water treatment demonstration plant in Carson. Momentum is building for a unique interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern California homes and business into relief for the stressed Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water agencies.  

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2023
Field Trip - March 8-10

This tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to some 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Central Valley Tour 2022
Field Trip - April 20-22

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.This tour ventured through California’s Central Valley, known as the nation’s breadbasket thanks to an imported supply of surface water and local groundwater. Covering about 20,000 square miles through the heart of the state, the valley provides 25 percent of the nation’s food, including 40 percent of all fruits, nuts and vegetables consumed throughout the country.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map By Douglas E. Beeman

As the Colorado River Shrinks, Can the Basin Find an Equitable Solution in Sharing the River’s Waters?
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Drought and climate change are raising concerns that a century-old Compact that divided the river’s waters could force unwelcome cuts in use for the upper watershed

Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, a key Colorado River reservoir that has seen its water level plummet after two decades of drought. Climate scientist Brad Udall calls himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2022
Field Trip - March 16-18

The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hyatt Place Las Vegas At Silverton Village
8380 Dean Martin Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89139
Tour Nick Gray Jenn Bowles

Northern California Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - October 14

This tour guided participants on a virtual exploration of the Sacramento River and its tributaries and learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law By Gary Pitzer

California Weighs Changes for New Water Rights Permits in Response to a Warmer and Drier Climate
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: State Water Board report recommends aligning new water rights to an upended hydrology

The American River in Sacramento in 2014 shows the effects of the 2012-2016 drought. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and intense droughts and floods. As California’s seasons become warmer and drier, state officials are pondering whether the water rights permitting system needs revising to better reflect the reality of climate change’s effect on the timing and volume of the state’s water supply.

A report by the State Water Resources Control Board recommends that new water rights permits be tailored to California’s increasingly volatile hydrology and be adaptable enough to ensure water exists to meet an applicant’s demand. And it warns that the increasingly whiplash nature of California’s changing climate could require existing rights holders to curtail diversions more often and in more watersheds — or open opportunities to grab more water in climate-induced floods.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2021
A Virtual Journey - May 20

This event explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour. 

Announcement

Save The Dates For Next Year’s Water 101 Workshop and Lower Colorado River Tour
Applications for 2020 Water Leaders class will be available by the first week of October

Dates are now set for two key Foundation events to kick off 2020 — our popular Water 101 Workshop, scheduled for Feb. 20 at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, and our Lower Colorado River Tour, which will run from March 11-13.

In addition, applications will be available by the first week of October for our 2020 class of Water Leaders, our competitive yearlong program for early to mid-career up-and-coming water professionals. To learn more about the program, check out our Water Leaders program page.

Lower Colorado River Tour 2020
Field Trip - March 11-13

This tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Silverton Hotel
3333 Blue Diamond Road
Las Vegas, NV 89139

Central Coast Tour 2019
Field Trip - November 6-7

This 2-day, 1-night tour offered participants the opportunity to learn about water issues affecting California’s scenic Central Coast and efforts to solve some of the challenges of a region struggling to be sustainable with limited local supplies that have potential applications statewide.

Western Water Colorado River Basin Map Gary Pitzer

As Shortages Loom in the Colorado River Basin, Indian Tribes Seek to Secure Their Water Rights
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: A study of tribal water rights could shed light on future Indian water use

Aerial view of the lower Colorado RiverAs the Colorado River Basin becomes drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains: How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?

Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.

Western Water Klamath River Watershed Map Layperson's Guide to Groundwater Gary Pitzer

California Leans Heavily on its Groundwater, But Will a Court Decision Tip the Scales Against More Pumping?
WESTERN WATER NOTEBOOK: Pumping near the Scott River in Siskiyou County sparks appellate court ruling extending public trust doctrine to groundwater connected to rivers

Scott River, in Siskiyou County. 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.

Northern California Tour 2019
Field Trip - October 2-4

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.

Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law Gary Pitzer

Amid ‘Green Rush’ of Legal Cannabis, California Strives to Control Adverse Effects on Water
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: State crafts water right and new rules unique to marijuana farms, but will growers accustomed to the shadows comply?

A marijuana plant from a growing operationFor decades, cannabis has been grown in California – hidden away in forested groves or surreptitiously harvested under the glare of high-intensity indoor lamps in suburban tract homes.

In the past 20 years, however, cannabis — known more widely as marijuana – has been moving from being a criminal activity to gaining legitimacy as one of the hundreds of cash crops in the state’s $46 billion-dollar agriculture industry, first legalized for medicinal purposes and this year for recreational use.

Tour

Lower Colorado River Tour 2018

Lower Colorado River Tour participants at Hoover Dam.

We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.

Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Western Water Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law Gary Pitzer

Does California’s Environment Deserve its Own Water Right?
IN-DEPTH: Fisheries and wildlife face growing challenges, but so do water systems competing for limited supply. Is there room for an environmental water right?

Sunset in Sacramento-San Joaquin DeltaDoes 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.

Tour Nick Gray

Lower Colorado River Tour 2019

This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour. 

Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Northern California Tour 2018

This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.

All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway. 

Tour

San Joaquin River Restoration Tour 2018

Participants of this tour snaked along the San Joaquin River to learn firsthand about one of the nation’s largest and most expensive river restoration projects.

Fishery worker capturing a fish in the San Joaquin River.

The San Joaquin River was the focus of one of the most contentious legal battles in California water history, ending in a 2006 settlement between the federal government, Friant Water Users Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.

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

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 Jenn 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.

Western Water Excerpt Jenn 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.

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 (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

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 2020

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 2005 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use, Colorado River transfers 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.

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.

The State Water Project is best known for the 444-mile-long aqueduct that provides water from the Delta to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and southern California cities. The guide contains information about the project’s history and facilities.

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 the Klamath River Basin
Published 2023

The Water Education Foundation’s second edition of the Layperson’s Guide to The Klamath River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase.

Updated and redesigned, the easy-to-read overview covers the history of the region’s tribal, agricultural and environmental relationships with one of the West’s largest rivers — and a vast watershed that hosts one of the nation’s oldest and largest reclamation projects.

Publication California Groundwater Map

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 California Water Map

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2021

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. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a section on the human need for water. 

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Central Valley Project
Updated 2021

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 project’s history, the guide describes the various CVP facilities, CVP operations, the benefits the CVP brought to the state and the CVP Improvement Act (CVPIA).

Publication Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Map

Layperson’s Guide to the Delta
Updated 2020

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 issues with sections on water quality, levees, salinity and agricultural drainage, fish and wildlife, and water distribution.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law

Water Rights in California

All-American Canal

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 based on ownership of land bordering a waterway. The riparian property owner has the right to use that water, a right that cannot be transferred apart from the land.

Aquapedia background Layperson's Guide to Water Marketing

Water Marketing

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.

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 California Water Map California Water Map, Spanish

Los Angeles Aqueduct and Owens Valley

Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades The Owens Valley in eastern California helped transform distant Los Angeles into today’s sprawling megalopolis.

More than 100 years ago, Los Angeles recognized the need to augment local water supplies and decided to tap faraway sources.

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.

Appropriative Right – A right based on physical control of water and since 1914 in relation to surface water, a state-issued permit or license for its beneficial use. Appropriative water rights in California are divided into pre-1914 and post-1914 rights, depending on whether they were initiated after the December 19, 1914 effective date of the Water Commission Act of 1913. Post-1914 rights can only be initiated by filing an application and obtaining a permit from the state. The program is now administered by the State Water Resources Control Board. 

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Banking

An aerial view of a groundwater bank

Groundwater banking is a process of diverting floodwaters or other surface water into an aquifer where it can be stored until it is needed later. In a twist of fate, the space made available by emptying some aquifers opened the door for the banking activities used so extensively today.

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].

Aquapedia background California Water Map Layperson's Guide to Water Rights Law

Appropriative Rights

Consumnes River water diversion

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

This “appropriative right” contrasts with a “riparian right,” which is based on ownership of property adjacent to surface 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.

Western Water Magazine

Making a Future for Fish: Preserving and Restoring Native Salmon and Trout
January/February 2009

This printed copy of Western Water examines the native salmon and trout dilemma – the extent of the crisis, its potential impact on water deliveries and the lengths to which combined efforts can help restore threatened and endangered species.

Western Water Magazine

Finding a Vision for the Delta
March/April 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines the Delta through the many ongoing activities focusing on it, most notably the Delta Vision process. Many hours of testimony, research, legal proceedings, public hearings and discussion have occurred and will continue as the state seeks the ultimate solution to the problems tied to the Delta.

Western Water Magazine

Remnants of the Past: Management Challenges of Terminal Lakes
January/February 2005

This issue of Western Water examines the challenges facing state, federal and tribal officials and other stakeholders as they work to manage terminal lakes. It includes background information on the formation of these lakes, and overviews of the water quality, habitat and political issues surrounding these distinctive bodies of water. Much of the information in this article originated at the September 2004 StateManagement Issues at Terminal Water Bodies/Closed Basins conference.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurgRita Schmidt Sudman

The Mojave River Basin Decision
Sept/Oct 2000

Priority: the right to precedence over others in obtaining, buying, or doing something – Webster’s New World College Dictionary 

First in time, first in right has long served as one guiding principle of water law in California. Simply put, this priority system generally holds that the first person to claim water and use it has a right superior to subsequent claims. In times of shortage, it is the most junior of water rights holders who must cut back use first.

Western Water Magazine

Managing the Colorado River
November/December 1999

Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999 in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional water development of the past has given way to a more collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment while stretching available water supplies.