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 Daily Republic

Opinion: Bleak future if state prioritizes Delta ecosystem over human needs

The governance of San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta water quality falls under the authority of the State Water Quality Control Board. Among other duties, the Water Board is responsible for adopting and updating the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Estuary (Bay-Delta Plan).  The Bay-Delta Plan’s purpose sets forth measures and flow requirements to safeguard various water uses within the watershed, including municipal, industrial, agricultural, and ecological needs. Comprising five political appointees with extensive powers, the Water Board plays a pivotal role in shaping California’s water management policies.
-Written by Cary Keaten, the general manager of the Solano Irrigation District. ​

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Reclamation announces 2024 initial Klamath Project water supply allocation and additional funding for drought resiliency, ecosystem enhancement

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced the initial 2024 water supply allocations for the Klamath Project along with $8.5 million in immediate funding for the Klamath Basin communities to support drought resiliency and $5 million for Klamath Basin tribes impacted by drought. In partnership with the Klamath Project Drought Response Agency, Reclamation has secured $8.5 million for administration of specifically authorized drought resiliency programs targeted for project contractors who receive a reduced water allocation. Reclamation is announcing this funding together with an additional $5 million from separate program sources which will be disbursed through technical assistance agreements with Klamath Basin Tribal Nations for drought and ecosystem activities.

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Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: Delivering water to the West

… The federal government’s current approach to this imbalance is the equivalent of trying to cure cancer with a Band-Aid. Instead of pursuing a long-term solution, Washington is using federal funds to pay states and tribal nations to leave water in the river instead of taking their full allocation. Mostly, that means paying farmers to stop farming. That is not a viable long-term solution, and strategically, we need to be encouraging MORE local farming and food production, not less. It does make sense to assist local farmers in switching to crops that require less water, but it does not make sense to put American farmers out of business and make us more reliant on food trucked or shipped thousands of miles before it arrives on our tables.
-Written by Arizona Republican Kari Lake, who is running for the U.S. Senate.​

Aquafornia news Colorado Sun

Why the tiny Shoshone Power Plant’s matters for Colorado River water rights

… This year Western Slope leaders, led by the Colorado River District, struck a $99 million deal to buy a tiny hydro plant’s water rights from Xcel Energy and lease the water back to Xcel to generate electricity. As part of the deal, Shoshone’s rights would become the largest, most influential environmental water right in state history.  The change would protect fish and habitat, but it would also beef up water security on the Western Slope by protecting reliable westward flows for farmers and tourist economies. … The Colorado River District’s plan has drawn hawk-eyed attention from water players around the state who are keen on protecting their supplies. 

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Aquafornia news Herald and News - Klamath Falls

Counties request ‘adequate’ water for agriculture, Klamath Project irrigators head to D.C.

Klamath, Modoc and Siskiyou County leaders are asking for an “adequate water supply” on behalf of local irrigation. A news release from Klamath Water Users Association this week said a letter has been sent to the Bureau of Reclamation requesting the full water allocations on behalf of Klamath Project irrigators. The letter, sent to Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton, bases the request for increase water flows in congruence with “favorably hydrology” this year in the Klamath Basin.

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Aquafornia news Ag Info

Water use report violation notices coming soon

Are you a water rightsholder? Have you filed your Annual Water Diversion and Use reports for Water Year 2023? If you answered “yes” then “no,” a notice of violation could be on the way. It’s just been announced that the Division of Water Rights will be sending Notices of Violation in the next few weeks for those who have not submitted the annual reports or statements. Those were due before February 1. According to the Board, if you submit your past-due report promptly, you will not receive the notice and potential future enforcement action. There is a help website that has been set up in an attempt to walk rightsholders through the process. You can access that at https://shorturl.at/xNY28.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

Explained: Senior rights to California’s water

Water access in California has seen growing scrutiny as the climate shifts from more extreme dry to wet swings. This results in increasing year-to-year uncertainty for both commercial and residential water availability. One area getting more attention from an ethical and practical application is the system of water rights, which first took shape in the late 1800s. 

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

New study: ASU research fellow addressing tribal water policy in Arizona

Water is a crucial topic in the American Southwest, as continued drought and cuts to Colorado River water allocations make more urgent the policy decisions on the future of water in the region. Gaps in water policies have historically left tribal communities with limited access to clean water and infrastructure, a situation that Cora Tso is working to correct. Tso, a new senior research fellow with the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute, is particularly well-suited to address tribal water policy issues as both a lawyer specializing in Indian and water law and an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation. She aims to share her expertise with others, both through an assessment tool she is creating and an upcoming free webinar on tribal water issues April 9 that is open to the public…. Tso was recently recognized as a Colorado River Water Leader by the Water Education Foundation and has strong ambitions as she continues in her career.

Aquafornia news California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

Blog: Superior Court upholds State Board’s plan to increase flows on San Joaquin River but denies claims flows are inadequate to protect fish

In December 2018 the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) adopted updates to the Bay-Delta Plan (Plan) in accordance with its obligations under the Porter-Cologne Act. The updated Plan included flow objectives intended to restore and protect Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the lower San Joaquin River and its tributaries. Twelve lawsuits and 116 claims were filed challenging the State Board’s updated Plan. On March 15, 2024, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Stephen Acquisto rejected all lawsuits and claims. To some degree the court’s decision is a win for California’s fisheries, but the decision also affirmed the discretionary right of the State Board to keep less water in rivers than needed to restore fisheries and aquatic ecosystems.

Aquafornia news E&E News

America’s water-starved ‘salad bowl’ fights for its future

For a place where nature didn’t intend lettuce to grow, the southwest corner of Arizona has built a spectacular record as “America’s salad bowl.” Thanks to copious irrigation and decades of public investment, Yuma and the bordering Imperial Valley of California supply as much as 90 percent of the nation’s salad greens during the winter, making the area pivotal to the debate over the future of American agriculture in an era of oppressive weather made worse by the changing climate.

Aquafornia news ABC 10 - Sacramento

California water rights: Millions of documents kept in Sacramento

In the Records Room of the CalEPA building in Sacramento are some of the most important documents in the entire state of California. Some date back to 1914. “Our files are organized in ascending order,” explained Matthew Jay, an analyst with the State Water Resources Control Board. “The oldest documents are at the bottom and so you can see that some of the stuff is all typewritten and in a lot of cases, handwritten.” … The papers are what’s known as water rights – the backbone of life in California and its multitrillion dollar economy. Water rights are official documents validating who has the authority to take water, from where, and how much of it.

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Aquafornia news UC Davis

News release: Karrigan’ Börk’s award-winning water rights solution

Karrigan Börk, UC Davis professor of law and Associate Director at the Center for Watershed Sciences, has been awarded the prestigious $10,000 Morrison Prize for his paper on water rights. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University recognizes Börk’s paper as “the most impactful sustainability-related legal academic paper published in North America” for 2023.  Börk’s winning paper, “Water Exaction Rights,” published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, proposes a solution to address current and future water crises in the US: an exactions framework. 

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Announcement: Attend our Open House May 2; New Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River hot off the press; Register for Water 101 before it’s sold out

The Water Education Foundation’s 10th edition of the Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Basin is hot off the press and available for purchase. Attend our May 2 Open House; And sign up for our annual Water 101 Workshop before it’s sold out!

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tribes seek equal status in Colorado River talks, compensation for any forced cuts

Two-thirds of the tribes with lands and water rights in the Colorado River Basin are calling for equal status in developing new river management guidelines and protection of their senior water rights against proposed cuts or caps on developing their water. Leaders from 20 tribes, including eight in Arizona, sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation March 11. In the letter, obtained by The Arizona Republic, the tribes outlined what they expect in new river management guidelines that will take effect when the current guidelines expire Dec. 31, 2026. The two tribes with Arizona’s largest river allocations — the Colorado River Indian Tribes, which holds senior rights to 720,000 acre-feet of water, mostly in Arizona, and the Gila River Indian Community, with 653,000 acre-feet of Colorado River and other waters — did not sign the letter.

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

California is digitizing its century-old paper water rights records

In a Sacramento office building, university students carefully scan pieces of paper that underpin California’s most contentious and valuable water disputes. One by one, they’re bringing pieces of history into the digital era, some a century old and thin as onion skin. The student workers are beginning to digitize the state’s water rights records, part of a project launched by the state’s water regulator earlier this year. It may seem simple, but scanning two million musty pages is part of a $60 million project that could take years. The massive undertaking will unmask the notoriously opaque world of California water. Right now, it’s practically impossible to know who has the right to use water, how much they’re taking and from what river or stream at any given time in the state.

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Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado River states remain divided on sharing water, and some tribes say their needs are still being ignored

The states that use the Colorado River have put out their latest proposals on how to manage the river’s shrinking amount of water, and the two plans reveal that there are still big differences in how upstream and downstream states want to divvy up future cuts to their water consumption. While state water negotiators say they’re committed to figuring out how they can compromise in the age of climate change when there is less water available to the 40 million people who rely on it, the Southern Ute tribal government in southwestern Colorado doesn’t believe either proposal addresses their concerns or helps them secure their water future.

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Aquafornia news Harvard Law School

Blog: Supreme Court tackles water rights in the West in Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado

Can Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado agree to a new apportionment of the Rio Grande’s waters without the U.S. government’s approval? The Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear a case next week that may affect access to water for millions of Americans — and set a precedent that could impact millions more, as increased usage and climate change further strain supply of the precious resource. On March 20, the Court will consider Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado, a tangled case involving water rights to the Rio Grande, a 1,896-mile river that begins at the base of the San Juan Mountains and runs into the Gulf of Mexico. The case, which has been in litigation for more than a decade, centers around a 1939 compact between the three states over how to apportion the river’s waters.

Aquafornia news KUNC - Greeley, Colo

Gila River Indian Community says it doesn’t support latest Colorado River sharing proposals

The Gila River Indian Community says it does not support a three-state proposal for managing the Colorado River’s shrinking supply in the future. The community, which is located in Arizona, is instead working with the federal government to develop its own proposal for water sharing. The tribe is among the most prominent of the 30 federally-recognized tribes that use the Colorado River. In recent years, it has signed high-profile deals with the federal government to receive big payments in exchange for water conservation. Those deals were celebrated by Arizona’s top water officials. But now, it is diverging from states in the river’s Lower Basin — Arizona, California and Nevada. Stephen Roe Lewis, The Gila River Indian Community’s Governor, announced his tribe’s disapproval of the Lower Basin proposal at a water conference in Tucson, Ariz., while speaking to a room of policy experts and water scientists.

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Aquafornia news E&E News by POLITICO

States grapple with how to grow in drying West

Across the parched West, there are signs the region’s decades-long population and housing boom is confronting the realities of dwindling water supplies. These have come in recent months from court rulings and executive edicts alike, as states crack down on the potential for new users to draw from already oversubscribed aquifers and surface waters. The skeleton of a would-be subdivision outside Las Vegas illustrates the coming constraints, stymied by a lack of water to support the new community. Water shortages also forced difficult decisions in other places, such as new restrictions in the Phoenix suburbs and a Utah town that halted all new construction for more than two years until it could secure a new well.

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

‘Closer’ to normal: What Rockies snowpack could mean for Lake Mead

Monday marked a key cutoff time by which Colorado River states had been tasked with proposing a consensus-based plant for long-term water conservation in the overtaxed system. But with the arrival of that deadline, set by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, no such agreement was on the table. Instead, the river system’s two main contingents — the Upper and Lower basins — submitted their own competing plans. The proposals pertained to an upcoming update of the rules — known as the 2007 Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages — that govern where, when and how much the seven basin states must conserve water from the 1,450-mile river.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

‘We can do better’ – Western states divided over long-term plans for Colorado River water

With climate change compounding the strains on the Colorado River, seven Western states are starting to consider long-term plans for reducing water use to prevent the river’s reservoirs from reaching critically low levels in the years to come. But negotiations among representatives of the states have so far failed to resolve disagreements. And now, two groups of states are proposing competing plans for addressing the river’s chronic gap between supply and demand. In one camp, the three states in the river’s lower basin — California, Arizona and Nevada — say their approach would share the largest-ever water reductions throughout the Colorado River Basin to ensure long-term sustainability. 

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Aquafornia news The Associated Press

Thursday Top of the Scroll: States in Colorado River basin pitch new ways to absorb shortages but clash on the approach

The seven U.S. states that draw water from the Colorado River basin are suggesting new ways to determine how the increasingly scarce resource is divvied up when the river can’t provide what it historically promised. The Upper Basin and the Lower Basin states, as neighbors, don’t agree on the approach. Under a proposal released Wednesday by Arizona, California and Nevada, the water level at Lake Mead — one of the two largest of the Colorado River reservoirs — no longer would determine the extent of water cuts like it currently does. The three Lower Basin states also want what they say is a more equitable way of distributing cuts that would be a 50-50 split between the basins once a threshold is hit. 

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Aquafornia news Salt Lake Tribune

New Colorado River agreement stops short of giving tribes a seat at the table

… On Monday, the Upper Colorado River Commission — an interstate agency composed of one federal representative and commissioners from the Upper Colorado River Basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — took a step toward greater collaboration between the states and the tribes. The commission unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with six Colorado River tribes: the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Ute Indian Tribe and the Shivwits Band of Paiutes. The agreement states that the Upper Colorado River Commission and the six tribes will meet about every two months to discuss shared interests on the Colorado River. Other tribes are welcome to join the agreement. The MOU does not give the tribes a permanent seat on the Upper Colorado River Commission, like the states and federal government.

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.

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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

Appropriative Rights

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.

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.