Water Rights

News & Analysis as of

New California Groundwater Laws Portend More Litigation, But Faster Resolution

Last week, the California Legislature sent two important bills on groundwater to Governor Jerry Brown for signature. The bills promise to revamp California’s complicated, lengthy, and arduous judicial process for adjudicating...more

Legislation Revamping California Groundwater Adjudications Marches Forward

AB 1390 aims in unprecedented fashion to expedite procedures and processes for groundwater adjudications, which, in California, are known to take one or two decades before reaching a final judgment. The bill would add various...more

California Drought Prompts Bout Among Regulators and Farmers

As the drought drags on and lawns grow brown across California, a battle is raging over the scope of the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to restrict the diversion of water from rivers, lakes and...more

Proposed Policies for Implementing B.C.’s New Water Sustainability Act Available for Comment

On July 30, 2015, the British Columbia government released four discussion papers for public comment outlining proposed new policies for regulations under the Water Sustainability Act. These papers are important as much of...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - August 2015

Environmental and Policy Focus: Coastkeeper's suit against water agency dismissed - San Diego Union-Tribune - Jul 31: A San Diego superior court judge ruled against an environmental group on July 30, rejecting its...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - July 2015 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - California State Water Board seeks fines from local water district for alleged drought-related violations: Sacramento Bee - Jul 20 - State drought regulators went on the offensive against...more

First Water Curtailment Action Filed in California

In the first of possibly many enforcement actions this year, the State Water Resource Control Board issued a draft cease-and-desist order against West Side Irrigation District in Tracy, Calif., demanding the District curb its...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - July 2015 #3

Environmental and Policy Focus - Water rights ruling a setback for California drought regulators: Sacramento Bee - Jul 10: In a significant ruling that could hinder California's ability to order water cutbacks, a judge...more

Government Response to Drought Conditions in B.C. Creates Potential for Water Use Curtailment

On July 15, the British Columbia government announced a Level 4 drought rating for the South Coast and Lower Fraser areas of the province, which could lead to orders to temporarily reduce or cease water use and put rights...more

Users Guide to California Water Rights

Much editorial space has been devoted of late to stories about surface water - water from lakes, rivers and streams - and who has a right to use it, who is using too much of it, and who is being hardest hit by the current...more

Irrigation District Sues, Says State Board Lacks Jurisdiction to Curtail Senior Water Rights

On June 26, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) filed a petition for writ of mandate in Contra Costa County Superior Court requesting that the Court set aside the State Water Resources Control Board’s June 12, 2015...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - June 2015 #3

Environmental and Policy Focus - State Water Contractors accuse California farmers of illegally taking river water: KPCC - Jun 16: The State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public agencies that purchase water...more

Fish & Game Code Section 1602 Is Unambiguous, Now Requiring More Water Users To Provide “1602 Notification” To “Substantially...

On June 4, 2015, the Court of Appeal ruled that California Fish and Game Code section 1602 (“Section 1602”) unambiguously requires notification to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (“Department”) if an entity or individual...more

A CEQA Trustee Agency “Muscles Up”: Third District Holds Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Newly Exercised Power To Require Notice...

Under CEQA, a “trustee agency” is a “state agency having jurisdiction by law over natural resources affected by a project which are held in trust for the people of the State of California” and “[t]he California Department of...more

Utah Legislative Update: 2015 Water Law Legislation

This year the Utah Legislature took action on two water law issues that it has struggled with for several years—the authority of the State Engineer to consider forfeiture during review of change applications and the rights of...more

State Board Issues Curtailment Notices of Surface Water Rights Diversions

Just as it did in 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board has issued several notices of curtailment for surface water rights holders in various watersheds because California’s extreme drought has resulted in...more

Pacific Northwest Water Wars

It may come as a surprise that people fight over water in soggy Oregon and Washington. To be sure, we have not experienced the same level of conflict over competing water needs as our neighbors in the southwest, but in fact...more

State of Alaska Continues Slow Progress in Adjudicating Instream Flow Water Rights

The State of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continued its slow and steady progress to issue the first instream flow water right to a non-governmental organization with a February 18, 2015 notice requesting...more

California Environmental Law & Policy Update - February 2015 #2

Environmental and Policy Focus: State Water Board launches investigation into claims of senior water rights - Allen Matkins - Feb 9: On February 4, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board issued an order seeking...more

State Water Board Launches Investigation Into Claims of Senior Water Rights

Action Required - Parties identified on Attachment A of the State Water Board's Order must provide the requested information no later than March 6, 2015, or face potential enforcement actions. ...more

State Board Issues Notice of Potential Curtailment of Surface Water Rights Diversions

Recent Rainfall Not Enough to Stop Drought Emergency Measures - Despite some rainfall and the temporary lifting of certain 2014 surface water curtailment notices during the fall, the drought emergency in California...more

Brownstein’s Annual Water Rights Compliance Checklist for 2015

This checklist provides a summary of state water right reporting requirements and applicable deadlines for users of surface or groundwater in California. If you have questions about the information contained in this...more

High Court Denies Petition by Parties with Reclamation Contracts Seeking to Avoid ESA Consultation

On November 17, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition for writ of certiorari filed by Glenn Colusa Irrigation District and others seeking to overturn a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit...more

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - August 2014 #4

Environmental and Policy Focus - State Lands Commission files suit to overturn S.F.'s Prop. B: SFGate.com - Jul 15: The State Lands Commission filed suit Tuesday to overturn San Francisco's voter-approved limits on...more

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Seeks Comment on Precedent-Setting Instream Flow Water Right

Instream flow rights can be controversial among consumptive water users because they decrease the legally available supply of water for other uses that may arise in the future. Conversely, instream flow rights are often...more

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