water rights

Making Key Policy Decisions in Advance of Droughts

Part 6 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

It’s hard to respond effectively to a crisis when you don’t have clearly defined priorities.  This is true for sudden-onset crises, like floods and wildfires, and also for slow-onset crises, like droughts. My recent posts have explored why the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) should develop a contingency-based framework to support its drought decisions …

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Developing a Decision-Support Framework for Curtailment

Part 5 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

During a drought, California’s limited water supplies should be allocated transparently, efficiently, and predictably in accordance with the priorities that flow from state and federal law.  But what does this mean in practice? What happens when there is not enough surface water to go around in a watershed?  California water rights law says that certain …

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A Contingency-Based Framework to Support Drought Decision Making

Part 4 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In my last post, I outlined actions the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) can take to improve its future drought response capabilities. Our core recommendation is for the Board to bring greater predictability, timeliness, and effectiveness to water rights administration and oversight during droughts by proactively developing a contingency-based framework to support its drought …

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Actions to Improve California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

Part 3 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In California, the next drought is always looming on the horizon.  While we don’t get advance warning of when a drought will occur, how long it will last, or how severe it will be, we do have advance knowledge that drought planning and preparation are important.  First, we know water management during droughts can have …

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Water Rights Administration and Oversight During Past California Droughts

Part 2 in a Series on Improving California Water Rights Administration and Oversight for Future Droughts

In the first post in this series, I talked about why it’s important for the state of California to spend time preparing for future droughts even in wet years like this one.  This post examines some of the lessons from past droughts that can inform these preparations. Past droughts have stress-tested California’s water management institutions, …

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California and Other Western States See Barriers to Protecting Streams

A new report highlights twelve western states’ efforts to restore stream flows using environmental water transfers

Unnaturally low flows in rivers and streams throughout the western United States have threatened fish and other aquatic species for decades. But restoring flows has proved a significant and complex challenge. A recent report prepared for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation by Stanford University’s Water in the West Program documents twelve western states’ efforts …

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Sacramento Judge Halts California Regulator’s Efforts to Impose Water Cutbacks

Court Rules Water Board’s Administrative Process Violates Water Users’ Due Process Rights

A Sacramento judge has thrown a wrench into the California State Water Resources Control Board’s efforts to impose water cutbacks on several of the state’s senior water rights holders.  In a July 10th order, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the Water Board’s administrative process, designed to implement drought-based water reductions, violates the due …

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A Water Rights Database For California’s Future

A proposal to modernize information for management of water resources

In April, a group of us (Richard Roos-Collins, Michael Kiparsky, Nell Green Nylen, Michael Hanemann, and Holly Doremus) wrote a document arguing for the need to develop a more complete and functional source of legal information on California’s water rights. Since then, this proposal has been circulated widely among the California water community. In the spirit of …

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Drought and the Supreme Court

Does the Court’s Decision in the Raisin Case Imperil Water Management?

When I first read Rick’s writeup of the Supreme Court’s decision in USDA v. Horne, concerning the federal government’s Depression-era system of “marketing orders” that required farmers to set aside a percentage of their raisin crop in a government-controlled account, I was worried about water. And that’s not just because I always worry about water. Horne turned on …

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California Court Upholds State Water Board’s Broad Authority to Ban Unreasonable Uses of Water

Ruling is Especially Timely, Given California’s Ongoing and Severe Drought Conditions

I recently wrote about a then-pending court case in which California grape growers were challenging the State Water Resources Control Board’s limits on the growers’ diversion of water from California rivers and streams to provide frost protection for their grapes.  That litigation is important because it goes to the heart of the Board’s authority under …

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