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 McClatchy Washington, DC, Bureau

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Rep. Denham is desperate to stop a California water plan. Nothing has worked — yet.

Rep. Jeff Denham, one of the nation’s most vulnerable Republicans, is trying desperately to shut down a state water plan that’s widely disliked in his district. But nothing has worked so far. One thing could: Yet another lawsuit between the Department of Justice and the state of California over the issue.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California’s largest new reservoir likely to face water-access limits

Sites Reservoir, the largest new water storage proposal in California, recently won a commitment of $816 million in state funds to help with construction. It promises to deliver enough water every year, on average, to serve 1 million homes. But regulatory realities looming in the background may mean the project has substantially less water at its disposal.

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

Strange bedfellows? Westlands and San Francisco share common ground

It’s rare that Westlands Water District and San Francisco face identical problems, but plans to keep more water flowing in the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers – leaving less for irrigators and cities – is bringing the two together. … The drama started in July when the State Water Resources Control Board issued a new water plan for the lower San Joaquin River recommending that 30 to 50 percent of the water — 40 percent is the target — would stay in the river as “unimpaired flows.”

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Farmers protest California water plan aimed to save salmon

Hundreds of California farmers rallied at the Capitol on Monday to protest state water officials’ proposal to increase water flows in a major California river, a move state and federal politicians called an overreach of power that would mean less water for farms in the Central Valley. … Environmentalists and fishermen offered a different take on the other side of the Capitol to a much smaller audience.

Related Article:

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona sides with developer in river water use dispute

A proposed housing development that opponents say will dry out one of the Southwest’s only free-flowing rivers can take shape after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the developer has proved it has sufficient long-term water supply.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water wars head upstream as state considers cutbacks for senior Central Valley irrigation districts

More than two decades after Los Angeles was forced to cut water diversions to protect California’s natural resources, the state is poised to impose similar restrictions on San Francisco and some of the Central Valley’s oldest irrigation districts. The proposal represents a dramatic new front in one of California’s most enduring water fights: the battle over the pastoral delta that is part of the West Coast’s largest estuary and also an important source of water for much of the state.

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Plans would reduce water diversions in north more than south

A final draft plan for the San Joaquin River system has been released by state water regulators. … But Friday the State Water Board also released a “framework” for a similar plan being prepared for the Sacramento River watershed, which would see even larger reductions of diversions in the north valley.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: New California water plan aimed at boosting fish habitat

California water officials on Friday released a plan to increase flows through a major central California river, an effort that would save salmon and other fish but deliver less water to farmers in the state’s agricultural heartland.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California has a new plan for allocating its water, and it means less for farmers

State regulators proposed sweeping changes in the allocation of California’s water Friday, leaving more water in Northern California’s major rivers to help ailing fish populations — and giving less to farming and human consumption.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Nestlé granted new three-year water permit in California

The U.S. Forest Service has granted Nestle a new three-year permit to continue operating its bottled water pipeline in the San Bernardino National Forest.  The agency announced the decision Wednesday, saying the permit has been offered to the company “with measures to improve the watershed’s health” along Strawberry Creek.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US allows Nestle to keep taking water from California forest

U.S. officials offered Nestle, the maker of Arrowhead bottled water, a three-year permit on Wednesday to keep taking millions of gallons of water from a national forest in Southern California — but with new restrictions designed to keep a creek flowing for other uses.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Water issue could make splitting California into three states virtually impossible

Splitting California into three new states would scramble nearly every segment of government that touches residents’ lives, from taxes to Medi-Cal to driver’s licenses. … But of all the gargantuan tasks facing Californians should they choose to divide themselves by three — a proposal that has qualified for the November ballot — none is arguably more daunting than carving up the state’s water supply.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, Zinke put water deal into effect

Leaders of the Blackfeet Nation and U.S. Interior Department on Tuesday put into effect a $471 million settlement of water rights claims that was decades in the making for the northwestern Montana American Indian tribe.

Aquafornia news Courthouse News

Judge tells feds to be on time with review of water project

A judge denied a request Thursday by a federal water management agency for more time to evaluate the environmental impacts of California’s water transfer program that allows some water rights holders to sell water to parched farms in the southern part of the state.

Aquafornia news High Country News

Tribal nations hold some of the best water rights in the West

Tens of thousands of people on the Navajo Nation lack running water in their homes. But that could change in the coming years, as the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project goes into effect. It’s expected to deliver water to the reservation and nearby areas by 2024, as part of a Navajo Nation water rights settlement with New Mexico, confirmed by Congress in 2009.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID elections are coming up. Coachella Valley residents can’t vote.

It’s been a tumultuous year for the Imperial Irrigation District. On the energy side, IID canceled tens of millions of dollars in contracts following allegations of financial conflicts of interest against the consultant ZGlobal Inc. On the water side, the publicly owned utility was jolted by a court ruling that could make it more difficult to limit the use of Colorado River water by Imperial Valley farmers.

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger

Legal Commentary: Administrative Hearing Office proposed for State Water Resources Control Board

With the release of California’s budget trailer bill came proposed new legislation on Friday that would add an Administrative Hearing Office within the State Water Resources Control Board. If passed, the newly formed Administrative Hearing Office would provide a neutral, fair and efficient forum for adjudications.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Owens Lake: Former toxic dust bowl transformed into environmental success

Fearsome gusts of desert wind routinely kicked up swirling clouds of choking dust over Owens Lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada after 1913, when its treasured snowmelt and spring water was first diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

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
Field Trip (past) April 11-13

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
Tour

Central Valley Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) - March 14-16

Central Valley Tour participants at a dam.

We 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.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

High Court: Feds have role in Texas-New Mexico water fight

A lawsuit pitting Texas against New Mexico and Colorado over access to water from the Rio Grande must be sent back to an arbitrator, also known as a special master, to resolve the dispute, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Why new California drought regulations have caused an uproar

On February 20, California’s State Water Resources Control Board postponed a decision on the adoption of new statewide regulations meant to curb wasteful water practices. The regulations would make permanent some rules California enacted temporarily during the recent drought, which ended last year.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water districts challenge judge in Navajo water rights settlement

Water districts in northern New Mexico sought to disqualify a state judge Tuesday and overturn a major settlement with the Navajo Nation in a simmering dispute about rights to water from the San Juan River.

Foundation Event University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law

Water 101 Workshop: The Basics and Beyond
Event included optional Delta Tour

One of our most popular events, Water 101 details the history, geography, legal and political facets of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the state.

Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the state, the one-day workshop gives attendees a deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural resource.

McGeorge School of Law
3285 5th Ave, Classroom C
Sacramento, CA 95817
Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern California

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Will California’s water wars create a constitutional conundrum?

With nearly half the state back in drought, California’s water regulator held a contentious hearing in Sacramento on Tuesday on whether to make permanent the temporary water bans enacted by Governor Jerry Brown during the 2014-2017 drought. The board announced it will revisit the proposed measures in March while it makes some minor revisions to the draft proposals.

Aquafornia news CALmatters

Commentary: The next big front in California’s water war

After one year of torrential respite, drought may have returned to California, and with it, a renewal of the state’s perpetual conflict over water management. State and federal water systems have told farmers not to expect more than a fifth of their paper allocations, the state Water Resources Control Board is weighing a new regime of mandatory conservation, and supporters of more reservoirs are complaining about the glacial pace of spending $2.7 billion set aside in a water bond for more storage.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Does California’s environment deserve its own water right?

Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.

Western Water Gary Pitzer 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.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

Nestlé takes issue with state report on water extractions in San Bernardino Mountains

With the comment period now over, state officials have begun their review of 30 separate filings in response to an investigation of Nestlé’s withdrawal of millions of gallons annually from springs in the San Bernardino National Forest for its Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water brand of bottled water.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

San Joaquin Valley water users, cut off during drought, win a round in court

Thousands of water-right holders who were told to cease diversions during the last drought were deprived of due process, a judge found Wednesday, raising questions about how the state will handle future shortages. … At the center of the legal dispute was the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District near Tracy.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

After signing of Blackfeet Nation water rights compact, funding still needed

When the Blackfeet Nation of Montana last year approved a water rights compact with the federal government that had taken more than three decades to negotiate, it was only the beginning. The deal quantifies the tribe’s water rights for the first time and provides for more than $470 million in state and federal funding for water projects and related initiatives, but securing that money will involve further negotiations that are likely to be slow going.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Some fear California drought cuts could erase water rights

A proposal to make California’s drought-era water restrictions permanent could allow the state to chip away at long-held water rights in an unprecedented power grab, representatives from water districts and other users told regulators Tuesday.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestlé says it’s entitled to keep bottling water from national forest

Nestlé is disputing the findings of an investigation by California water regulators, arguing the company is entitled to keep piping water out of the San Bernardino National Forest — even more water than it has been bottling and selling in the past few years.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Governor tried to smooth the way for Delta project. All he got was more friction.

California officials tried to smooth the way for the Delta tunnels project by slicing it in half. Instead they’re facing more pushback and the possibility of additional delays. One day after Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration downsized the Delta tunnels project, a host of project opponents tried Thursday to halt a state regulatory hearing that’s crucial to getting it built.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Why a Supreme Court battle over water in the West could have been avoided

Earlier this month, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a case pitting Texas against New Mexico over water rights along the Rio Grande. The Lone Star State initially filed suit against its partner in the Rio Grande Compact in 2013, charging project mismanagement and illegal use of water from the river and its connected groundwater in a roughly 130-mile stretch as the river leaves New Mexico and enters Texas.

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

State gives Nestlé, environmentalists and individuals more time to comment about water withdrawals

The deadline for filing comments about the State Water Resources Control Board’s controversial ‘Report of Investigation’ for Nestlé’s water mining in the San Bernardino Mountains has been extended to Feb. 9, from Thursday, Jan. 25, allowing environmental groups, individuals and Nestlé more time to perfect arguments in an effort to shape the direction of the final report.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Key Delta tunnels hearing delayed

A lengthy Delta tunnels hearing that was set to begin Thursday instead has been delayed for two weeks as state officials consider claims that illegal meetings took place between tunnels proponents and the agency that is supposed to independently judge the project.

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: Illegal meetings in Delta tunnels case, opponents claim

A state agency that is supposed to independently judge the merits of Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed Delta tunnels has simultaneously been holding meetings illegally with project proponents, critics allege in a pair of motions filed this week. The State Water Resources Control Board on Thursday is scheduled to resume lengthy public hearings that could result in a permit that would allow the $17 billion project to move forward.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

State moves step closer to downsizing Delta tunnels project

California officials have moved closer to scaling back the troubled Delta tunnels project, officially notifying potential construction contractors that they’re considering limiting the project to one tunnel.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nestlé warned it lacks rights to some California water

Nestle, which sells Arrowhead bottled water, may have to stop taking millions of gallons of water from Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest because state regulators concluded it lacks valid permits. The State Water Resources Control Board notified the company on Wednesday that an investigation concluded it doesn’t have proper rights to about three-quarters of the water it withdraws for bottling.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestlé appears to be taking too much water from California forest, regulators say

California water regulators told Nestlé that the company doesn’t appear to have valid water rights for all of the water it’s been piping out of the San Bernardino National Forest and selling as bottled water. Regulators at the State Water Resources Control Board notified Nestlé of their findings following a 20-month investigation, recommending the company limit its use of water from the namesake source of Arrowhead 100% Mountain Spring Water unless it can show it has valid rights for all of the water it’s been taking. 

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Wednesday’s Top of the Scroll: San Diego County water-rights lawsuit ends after 66 years

After 66 years of litigation and more than 50 years of settlement talks, the longest-running federal civil case in San Diego has ended. The Fallbrook Public Utility District board of directors voted unanimously Monday to end a water dispute with the U.S. government and Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base over rights to water that flows from the Santa Margarita River.

Aquafornia news Anza Valley Outlook

Landmark settlement reached on Santa Margarita River use rights

A landmark agreement on the Santa Margarita River Conjunctive Use project between the Fallbrook Public Utility District and Camp Pendleton Marine Base promises to be signed Dec. 11, after 66 years of litigation in the U.S. courts and could be good news for the 10-year-old water rights settlement case that is hindering development along state Route 371 in the Valley.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

How a big win for Native American water rights could impact the West

On Monday, November 27, the United States Supreme Court let stand a California federal appellate court decision that could chart a new course for Native American tribal groundwater rights. In the case, Agua Caliente Band v. Coachella Valley Water District, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had ruled on March 7 that the tribe’s water rights include an aquifer that lies beneath the Palm Springs-based tribe’s 31,500-acre reservation.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Supreme Court won’t hear California water agencies’ appeal in tribe’s groundwater case

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it will not hear an appeal by water agencies in the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ landmark lawsuit asserting rights to groundwater beneath the tribe’s reservation.

Northern California Tour 2018
Field Trip (past) - October 10 - 12

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
Field Trip - November 7-8

Participants of this tour snake 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.

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

John T. Racanelli, pro-environment California justice, dies

John T. Racanelli, a retired California justice whose pioneering opinions had a profound impact on disability rights and the environment, died Thursday at his home in Manhattan. … His most ground-breaking ruling, eponymously known as the Racanelli decision, came in 1986, which established for the first time that the government must protect not just the water rights of farmers and municipalities but also the needs of fish and wildlife.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Justices to hear argument in states’ disputes over water

The Supreme Court says it will hear a decades-long dispute between Florida and Georgia over water rights.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

California is giving water back to native fish—but how much?

As California continues an epic regulatory effort to reallocate water supplies for salmon habitat, an equally big question looms over the process: How much water do salmon and other native fish really need? The question is at the core of a process led by the State Water Resources Control Board to take water from existing human uses – both agriculture and urban – and rededicate it to instream environmental flows in the San Joaquin River, the state’s second-largest river.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: 1939 Central Valley water deal may doom Delta tunnels

Dam builders from President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration wanted to bring water to the parched eastern half of the San Joaquin Valley, but first they had to deal with a cluster of landowners whose ancestors had been there since the 1800s. The deal they cut in 1939 paved the way for much of the Central Valley Project, an engineering marvel that helped turn the Valley into one of the world’s most productive farming regions.

Aquafornia news Eugene Register-Guard

Oregon judge rejects claims of Klamath Basin irrigators

An Oregon judge has rejected claims by several Klamath Basin irrigators that state regulators wrongly shut down their groundwater wells based on faulty scientific analysis.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

In court battle over groundwater rights, tribe’s leader demands water treatment

The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to decide whether it will hear an appeal from water agencies and rule in the precedent-setting legal fight over whether the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians holds rights to groundwater in the California desert.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles took their water and land a century ago. Now the Owens Valley is fighting back

A century ago, agents from Los Angeles converged on the Owens Valley on a secret mission. They figured out who owned water rights in the lush valley and began quietly purchasing land, posing as ranchers and farmers.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Do tribes have groundwater rights? Agencies take case to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled on whether Indian tribes hold special rights to the groundwater beneath their reservations, and the court will now have a chance to settle the question in a case that could redraw the lines in water disputes across the country.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

‘Under the radar’ hearings grind on for California water tunnel project

The controversial water diversion tunnels proposed in California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta may be the biggest waterworks up for review anywhere in the world. And this $17 billion project requires a variety of permits and approvals before construction can begin. … The State Water Resources Control Board is the agency charged with issuing the new diversion permit – essentially a new water right.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Preventing water wars in the West could come down to free market

There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law: “first in time, first in right.” A steady flow of farmers followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley.

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Yuba County pushes legislation on illegal diversion of river water for pot grows

In 2015, a Nevada County man believed to be running a marijuana cultivation site hauled a 500-gallon tank into Yuba County and filled it by diverting water from the Yuba River, which is not illegal under current law. Yuba County supervisors and the district attorney recently signed a letter of support for a bill that would amend the Water Code to address that type of situation.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

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

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

Aquafornia news Western Water on Tap

Farming in the Delta with less water

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Federal court weighs whether Agua Caliente tribe holds rights to groundwater

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

The big shortage: how drought is impacting water investment

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquapedia background

Mojave River

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Watermaster: Understanding the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta crisis

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Northern California towns are running out of water

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

Aquafornia news San Bernardino County Sun

Federal judge wants more details before ruling in Nestle lawsuit

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

Aquafornia news San Bernardino Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news Capital Press

Water board to refine enforcement procedures after ruling

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Illegal pumping cases dismissed

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Bay Area News Group

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

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

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Nestle plans for healthy forest and water bottling

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California investigates Nestle water rights

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Nestle: Forest Service shouldn’t infringe on water rights

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

New dispute erupts over Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnels project

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Fight over senior water rights splashes into the Capitol

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Key questions in water rights hearing

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

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

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

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

Aquafornia news The Atlantic

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

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

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

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

Aquafornia news Bloomberg News

The water barons of California’s Imperial Valley

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

After long summer, water pumping resumes

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Even in drought, California water rights politically toxic

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Some growers can divert water again amid drought, regulators say

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

Aquafornia news KPCC Southern California Public Radio

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

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

Western Water Magazine

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

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

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

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

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

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

Introduction

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Water district to challenge penalty

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

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Judge backs Calif. drought regulators

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Proving illegal water grabs tough in California’s drought

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Tracy-area district faces first fine

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

State levies $1.5 million fine for illegal water use

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

State issues first action to enforce a water rights curtailment

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California flexes muscles in water tussle with farmers

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

New curtailment letters issued

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

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

Legal Commentary: State Water Board rescinds curtailments

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

Aquafornia news The Fresno Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Farmers prevail in court

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Blog: Delta voluntary cuts challenged

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

Aquafornia news KCRW

The flood of water rights lawsuits begins (audio)

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Drought shows need to untangle California water rights

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Some water agencies in California consider defying state cuts

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

Aquafornia news Marin Independent Journal

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Setback for Tracy-area farmers

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Lawsuits challenge California’s drought plan

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Modesto-area irrigation districts sue state over water restrictions

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California water districts challenge state’s drought order

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

Aquafornia news KQED

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

First lawsuit filed in water rights clash

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news The New York Times

California cuts farmers’ share of scant water

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

Aquafornia news The New York Times

A thirsty Colorado is battling over who owns raindrops

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California curtails senior water rights

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

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Sacramento Valley senior water rights cuts fall unevenly

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Decades-old water rights in California halted amid drought

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown sees California getting through drought

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

As California drought worsens, experts urge water reforms

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

Aquafornia news San Jose Mercury News

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Voluntary cuts approved by state

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Drought-ridden California faces decision on new water cuts

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

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Delta farmers offer to take 25 percent less water

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

California farmers in line for more drought cutbacks

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

Aquafornia news Appeal-Democrat

Marysville eyes water sale revenue

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

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

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

Aquafornia news Associated Press

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Pipeline advocate William Shatner holds senior water rights

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

Aquafornia news Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG)

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

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Sacramento-area water agencies call state drought program illegal

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

California’s complicated water rights system (with audio)

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Brown says water rights changes coming (with audio)

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

Aquafornia news NPR

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

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Commentary: In California, rights to water exceed the supply

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

Aquafornia news Chico Enterprise-Record

Feather River farmers see 50% water reductions

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

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Coachella Valley: At war over water

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

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

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

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

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Pumping halted in excess groundwater case

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

Aquafornia news Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Lake Mendocino shrinking again

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agua Caliente tribe’s water lawsuit moving to trial

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

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water agencies, Agua Caliente tribe spar in federal court

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Property rights debate bogs down Modesto Irrigation District

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Central Valley, Delta water rights under scrutiny

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

Aquafornia news Capitol Weekly

Water rights’ cost draws scrutiny

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

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Los Angeles agency hits the top in arrogance

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Water rights during drought (with audio)

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

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

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

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

Aquafornia news Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard (KMTG)

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

State undertakes more scrutiny on water users

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

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

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

Aquafornia news Best Best & Krieger LLP

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

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

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

State Board warns of water curtailments if dry conditions persist

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

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Century later, the ‘Chinatown’ water feud ebbs

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

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

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

Aquafornia news The Bakersfield Californian

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

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Interior opinion upholds Humboldt’s right to promised Trinity water

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

Aquafornia news Maven's Notebook

Blog: Groundwater adjudication hearing, part 3

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

Aquafornia news Eureka Times-Standard

Humboldt County supervisors hear potential plans for Mad River water exports

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

Aquafornia news KQED Public Media for Northern Calif.

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

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

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

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

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

Aquafornia news The Modesto Bee

Snow-making a pipe dream for resort owner?

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

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

State Senate hearing focuses on streamlining groundwater rights disputes

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

Commands