‘A Foundation of Racism’: California’s Antiquated Water Rights System Faces New Scrutiny

It’s an arcane system of water law that dates back to the birth of California — an era when 49ers used sluice boxes and water cannons to scour gold from Sierra Nevada foothills and when the state government promoted the extermination of Native people to make way for white settlers.

Today, this antiquated system of water rights still governs the use of the state’s supplies, but it is now drawing scrutiny like never before.

Arizona Changes ‘Use It or Lose It’ Water Law

A change in Arizona water law will let farmers and ranchers conserve water without worrying about losing their rights to it in the future.

Like most western states, Arizona water rights are “use it or lose it,” meaning that if farmers or ranchers don’t use their full amount for a certain number of years they risk forfeiting their rights forever. Kim Mitchell, senior water policy advisor with Western Resource Advocates, said that disincentivizes conservation at a time when we increasingly need more of it.

“We’re on the heels of 20 years of drought and now we have these recent commitments to divert less water from the Colorado River. And annual flow in many of our water courses have been decreasing with climate change and the drought that continues to grip the region,” Mitchell said.

Opinion: If We Want to Keep Arizona’s Endangered Rivers Flowing, this Water Law Must Change

There is much to see and appreciate in Arizona’s natural resources. Water flowing through washes, creeks, rivers and springs sustains life in this hot, dry state. Protecting these waterways, crucial to all life in a desert environment, is an important priority for most Arizonans.

Supercharged by Climate Change, ‘Megadrought’ Points to Drier Future in the West

Since 2000, the West has been stricken by a dry spell so severe that it ranks among the biggest “megadroughts” of the past 1,200 years. But scientists have found that unlike the decades-long droughts of centuries ago, this one has been supercharged by humanity’s heating of the planet.

Ranchers Sue Trump Administration, Arguing Water Rollback is Federal Overreach

A group of ranchers sued the Trump administration Monday over a rollback to an Obama-era water rule they argue is still too strict.

Bernhardt: Newsom’s Water Gambit “Potentially Unlawful”

U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt isn’t shying away from reminding Californians who reigns supreme in its water wars. In a letter issued Tuesday, Bernhardt reminded California leaders that its ability to act unilaterally in enacting restrictive rules governing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is limited and could violate the law.

California Water Supplier Heading to Court in State Permit Fight

A powerful California water distributor plans to take the state to court over a permit it received last month to manage water delivery. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday voted to sue the state of California over a permit one state agency granted to another at the end of March.

California Rules Anger Water Agencies, Environmental Groups

California regulators on Tuesday set new rules about how much water can be taken from the state’s largest rivers, angering water agencies for restricting how much they can take and environmental groups for not making those limits low enough to protect endangered species.

California Water Pumping Suits Moved to Eastern District Court

Two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s authorization of plans to increase water pumping from the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds will be moved from the Northern District of California to the Eastern District of California, a federal judge ruled.

Feinstein Pushes To Extend Controversial Water Law Despite Environmental Concern

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining forces with House Republicans to try to extend a controversial law that provides more water for Central Valley farms, but with a sweetener for the environment: help with protecting California’s rivers and fish. The proposed extension of the WIIN Act, or Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, would keep millions of federal dollars flowing for new dams and reservoirs across the West. It would also continue to allow more water to be moved from wet Northern California to the drier south.