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Panel Descriptions

 
 
PANEL 1: INTRODUCTION TO REASONABLE USE LAW IN CALIFORNIA

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.

 
PANEL 2: A TALE OF TWO COUNTIES: EFFICIENCY IN A MODERN CLIMATE
 
In the driest months of last year urban water users across California failed to make substantive cuts in their water usage. Absent mandatory water rationing, how can these urban users cut back their use? Increased efficiency through recycled wastewater may be the best way for urban users to prepare for increasing scarcity. Rural Calaveras County has become a leader in wastewater efficiency. What can urban users like East Bay Municipal Utility District—which draws water from Calaveras County’s Mokelumne River—learn and apply from the successes of their rural counterparts?
 
PANEL 3: "JUST" PRICING: WATER AFFORDABILITY AND CALIFORNIA'S HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER
 
This panel addresses pricing, one of the most powerful tools for influencing behavior in any arena. Pricing incentives have been implemented for water more slowly than other resources, in part because of the enormous social justice implications of pricing such a basic amenity. In 2012, California took a major step toward addressing affordability and access concerns by becoming the first state in the U.S. to legally recognize a human right to water. California’s Human Right to Water Bill, A.B. 685, aims to ensure universal access to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water for consumption, cooking, and sanitation. The bill directs state agencies to consider this policy when taking actions that may impact these water uses. Our panelists will discuss the social justice implications of water pricing and how this new law may shift pricing discussions in the near future.
 
PANEL 4: SUSTAINABLE GROUNDWATER MANAGEMENT

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.

PANEL 5: THE ROLE OF REASONABLE USE IN RUSSIAN RIVER FROST PROTECTION LITIGATION
 
The Russian River presents another classic California story of agriculture versus wildlife protection. The River flows through the heart of California’s wine country, supporting a world-renowned viticulture area and providing wildlife habitat for a variety of fish. During the spring, when grapes are particularly vulnerable to frost damage, vineyard owners will water from the river to continually mist the grapes and protect them from frost damage. This can negatively impact wildlife in the river. For example, as a result of frost protection diversions in the April of 2008, the National Marine Fisheries Services reported that some 25,000 salmon in the Russian River watershed were stranded (i.e., left without water) and died.

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. 

 
PANEL 6: THE DELTA WATERMASTER REPORT AND THE ROLE OF REASONABLE USE IN THE CALIFORNIA AGRICULTURAL IRRIGATION SECTOR

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.

 

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