Navigating Rough Waters—Challenges in California to Securing and Maintaining Long-Term Supplies

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Stoel Rives attorney Wes Miliband recently published an article in the ABA’s Water Resources Committee Newsletter titled “Navigating Rough Waters—Challenges in California to Securing and Maintaining Long-Term Supplies.” The article discusses the steps taken by California to address the state’s water needs after its fourth consecutive year of drought.

Miliband summarizes the actions taken in 2015 to address the water shortage, including the enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, the state’s first statewide mandatory groundwater regulatory system, and then addresses measures or actions that will have an impact in California in 2016, including:

  • the decision of whether the State Water Resources Control Board has the authority to regulate appropriative water rights from before 1914, the year of establishment of the state’s jurisdiction and regulatory authority over surface water;
  • the first steps in the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act; and
  • the implementation of Assembly Bill 1390, which imposes new requirements meant to speed groundwater adjudications.

Miliband concludes that California needs to reassess its water supply planning, such as greater  recycled water use, but it should stop short of changing the entire water rights system, as some have suggested. “Rather, and from the broader view, the massive regulatory changes now being implemented need to take their first few steps, with potential changes to recycled water laws and regulations being ripe for adjustment,” he writes.

Read “Navigating Rough Waters—Challenges in California to Securing and Maintaining Long-Term Supplies,” published January 2016.

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