Opinion: Water Rights Reformers Scored Only a Minor Victory in the Legislature

A centerpiece of California’s perpetual political and legal wrangling over allocation of water is the complex array of rights that stretch back to the earliest years of statehood in the 19th century.

Simply put, those who claimed water before 1914, when the state assumed legal control, have “senior rights” that traditionally have entitled them to virtually unlimited supplies even when other users face cutbacks during drought.