The development of California has always run parallel to the development of water. From the mining camps in the 1840’s to the present day, water continues to dictate how California conducts its daily life. This introduction will go over a brief history of how modern Water Law has developed and what are some of the major pit falls that continue to plague it to this day. The panel will be centered on the Reasonable Use Doctrine. The purpose of the Reasonable Use Doctrine provides, in part:
“The right to water or to the use or flow of water in or from any natural stream or water court in this State is and shall be limited to such water as shall be reasonably required for the beneficial use to be served, and such right does not and shall not extend to the waste or unreasonable use or unreasonable method of use or unreasonable method of diversion of water.”
Written in to the California Constitution, the reasonable Use Doctrine only allows the “beneficial use” of water in California. As the panelist debate the importance of the Reasonable Use Doctrine, they will also challenge themselves and the audience, to gain a better knowledge of what could be changed, added, or deleted to this law and policy.
As the current drought stretches into its third year, consumers throughout the state have increasingly turned to underground aquifers to supply their water resource needs. Effective groundwater management and monitoring is vital to sustain and support a healthy environment and economy within the state of California, yet the diverse range of users dependent on groundwater resources has made regulatory and monitoring requirements difficult to define. Following the legislative approval of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (AB 1739/SB 1168), this panel will address the content, implementation, and implications of the new groundwater reporting and monitoring requirements on local municipalities, districts, and private users.
In response the State Water Resource Control Board adopted Regulation 862, which required frost protection diverters of Russian River water to submit a “water demand management program” to the SWRCB with information about the amount of water regularly diverted from the Russian River for this purpose, the acreage and crops that received frost protection water, and alternative methods to direct diversion (e.g., off-river storage) for frost protection water. Panelists will discuss recent litigation over Regulation 862 and the SWRCB’s authority to regulate reasonable use concerns. Further, the panel will provide an analysis of lessons learned from the litigation and how those lessons can be applied to other wildlife protection cases.
Making California the largest farm state in the union, California's agricultural industry provides more than $40 billion to the state's GDP and supplies roughly half of the nation's fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Agriculture is the largest user of consumptive non-environmental water in the state, and the effects of the current drought--fallowed fields, fluctuating crop yields, and lowering groundwater tables--highlight the dynamic and integrated relationship between water availability and food production.
In 2011, the Delta Watermaster issued a report highlighting the role of the reasonable use doctrine in promoting agricultural water use efficiency. A change toward more efficient irrigation practices has the potential to yield significant volumes of water that can be made available for environmental, urban, and industrial water users. While promoting greater water use efficiency in agriculture has legal and policy implications throughout the state, there are also crucial business and economic impacts at the farm gate and to local communities. This panel will discuss the legal, political, and economic decision-making processes that water districts and individual farmers consider in achieving greater agricultural water use efficiency.
The 2015 Symposium will host 6 panels. The above panel titles and descriptions are tentative and subject to minor changes.