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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and the ecosystem at large? In the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks a combination of fear, uncertainty and promise.
Saying that the way California manages water for the environment “isn’t working for anyone,” the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) shook things up late last year by proposing a redesigned regulatory system featuring what they described as water ecosystem plans and water budgets with allocations set aside for the environment.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Explore 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.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we 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. Tour participants will get an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway.
This 3-day, 2-night excursion travels across the Sacramento Valley and follows the river north from Sacramento through Chico to Redding and Lake Shasta, where participants take a houseboat tour.
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 plans.
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 Authority and a coalition of environmental groups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thousands of water users across California can again draw water directly from streams after state officials Wednesday lifted restrictions on one of the last major blocks of water rights, imposed in June due to the drought.
Under an agreement between the city [of Los Angeles] and Owens Valley air quality regulators, Los Angeles will use a new, organic method of suppressing airborne dust from the dry bed of Owens Lake, which L.A. drained to slake its thirst in the last century.