'Improvised, spotty and belated': Will California reform its oversight of water rights?

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Bills advancing in the California Legislature would expand water regulators' authority to investigate the state's oldest water rights and penalize violators.

California’s complex system of water rights took shape starting in the mid-1800s, when settlers saw the state’s water as abundant and free for the taking — a time when a Gold Rush prospector could stake claim to river flows simply byToday, California’s oldest and most senior water rights — called riparian and pre-1914 rights — have been passed along to thousands of agricultural landowners, irrigation districts and urban water suppliers that claim control of roughly one-third of the water that...

Three bills gaining momentum in the Legislature are seeking to change that, even as they draw heated opposition from water agencies and agricultural groups.As calls mount to reform California’s antiquated water rights system, some are calling on lawmakers to address the system’s legacy of racism. “They’ve got to have more tools at their disposal to better understand the rights system as it exists,” said Sen. Ben Allen , who introduced the proposal.than is available in an average year, Allen noted, and state water regulators are tasked with making the system work through increasingly intense droughts.

Source: Law Daily Report (lawdailyreport.net)

 

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