Sep 20, 2019 in Literature

Water Rights and Water Supply


The ford, fictitious book authored by Mary Austin in 1917, sheds light on some of the most crucial issues in California history. This was basically based on the usurpation of water from the Owens Valley, running from the Eastern Sierra to the financial district in San Francisco. The book portrays the frenzied speculation in land and resources, feminist organizations of time, and labor protests which have been exemplified in the successful efforts of an independent young woman to bring her family back from Owens Valley ranch. The reason for the author to bring her family from the Owens Valley ranch was due to the fact that the region had water which was being unlawfully diverted that was causing a series of environmental hazards to other community who were dependent on this watershed for their life and livelihood.

Water rights

Water being both a basic necessity for life and for many economic activities, it has to be protected to ensure it is not misused or wasted. That is the main reason as to why California authority has managed to put in place an agency that is solely mandated and responsible to deal with water conservation. The society also gives the people and property owners the right to use water but not to possess it or hoard the water. Water rights holders must not adversely affect the rights of other legal water users or on the other hand cause harm to the environment. Water policy is made an issue of the public concern due to the fact that water is a scarce resource hence often affected by shortages. It is bestowed on the law attorneys to make water rights issue to become a social policy especially during the drought seasons. This has made California to put in place several water rights bodies. The bodies are mandated with dealing with the various rights people have over water within the state. Some of these rights include riparian rights, appropriative rights, prescriptive rights, and overlying rights.

The Supreme Court in California established that the property owners or individuals who are riparian right holders have the priority to diverting water over most of the appropriative right holders. Appropriator may only divert water that is surplus to that diverted by the riparian right holders and this is from any given natural water source such as a stream. There is also a hierarchy within the appropriative right holders; those with rights resulting from pre 1914 filings claims have priority over all other appropriative right holders for diverting and using water. It is until recently when the rights were reviewed by the state water board.

The state of California has been faced with a lot of confusion over water rights issues prevailing on its major watersheds. Few right owners know the scope of their entitlements. This confusion has on a number of times led to conflicts and litigations between neighbors and large water users seeking water from the same watersheds such as rivers, streams, and ground water basins. However, the conflicts have been resolved through adjudication. The judge is expected to review all the available evidence then issue a decision allocating water among the various right holders in the given watershed area or ground water basin that has a conflict arising from it. Despite the fact that adjudication has proven effective in resolving water conflicts, it is expensive and time consuming and some scenario it may take many years to resolve the conflict.

California State has also seen the development of the Electronic Water Rights Information Management system (eWRIMS). It is a computerized database system which was developed by the State Water Resource Control Board. Its main mission was to track information on water rights in California. The system contains information on statements of water diversion and uses this information filled by the water diverters and water right permits and licenses that have been issued by the water resource control board and their predecessors there in.


Water supply

California currently has close to one year water remaining in its reservoirs. This is very little amount of water in comparison to the generally required limit standard of water for a state. Water storage in California has been in a steady decline since 2002 when the satellite monitoring begun. This has correspondently led to the depletion of the ground waters as well since the 20th century. Despite all this, California lacks a strategic contingent plan to deal with this dormant risk or disaster that is just overlooking waiting to explode. Authorities should be keen to take a number of steps to curb the looming crisis.

First and foremost there should be an immediate water rationing plan authorized for all the state’s water sectors. Recently, a poll conducted showed that 94% of the Californians see the drought as a serious issue and a third of them strongly support the rationing idea. Secondly the implementation of the Sustainable Ground Water Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated so that there are numerous ground water agencies by the year 2017. Thirdly, the state needs to task force for analytical leaders to start brainstorming and lay down ground work for long term strategies that will help in water management. Lastly, the general public should take ownership of the water shortage issue and look on ways to help in conservation of water from a personal point of view. The public should be educated on the importance of this issue and given necessary guidance concerning the same on how to manage the little amount of water which is available its disposal. This is so because it has been observed that the public has consistently remained detached on water based issues despite the fact that it is (water) the most important, commonly owned resource for the public.

Environmental issue

California as any other state in the United States of America faces a number of environmental issues that it consistently deals with in its daily operations. The environmental issues comprises of contamination of drinking water, soil contamination, air pollution, energy conservation, water pollution, and mining environmental issues. To begin with, the administration of California State has been faced with the environmental challenge concerned with the level of hygiene with regard to the drinking water. Drinking water has largely been contaminated. This has been as a result of pollution of oceans, rivers, reservoirs and lakes which is a top most environmental issue to the people living in California. When conducting a research on this matter most of the correspondents, to be precise more than half of the correspondents, indicated that they did not have confidence and trust in the safety of the drinking water availed to them. Soil contamination is also another key environmental issue which the state has to deal with head on to encourage economic growth through the route of agriculture and agribusiness. Soil contamination has been as a result of several factors, for instance soil conservation, erosion, salination, and soil contamination by pesticides and waste. This has made a majority number of the Californians (more than 50%) to be worried about the state of the soil since it has a direct effect on its productivity rate.

Water pollution is another environmental issue facing the California state. Water pollution has majorly been as a result of acid rains, urban runoff, oil spills in the ocean, waste waters, and ocean dumping. According to a poll conducted in the United States of America in 2008 it clearly indicated that the issue of water pollution holds the number one spot on environmental hazardous issues. This is because water is used for almost each and every operation and procedure that the economy may decide to engage in. For instance both the domestic and industrial operations require water and if the water is polluted then this operations will automatically stall. Energy conservation is also among the issues which need to be kept in check by the authorities to help avoid energy wastages. California State has ensured that there is accessible of renewable energy for both business and homes which are environmental friendly and also help to preserve the environment as well. For instance less emission of harmful gases by this energy sources hence protects the ozone layer. Using renewable energy has also proved key in saving the natural fossil fuels from depletion. This has led to energy efficiency and effectiveness within the State.

California has been able to be a provider of a significant portion of the states petroleum production. This has made the issue over the control of this mining and oil wells to be a contentious issue between the state and the federal authorities due to the resources it bring to the economy. Despite all this the mining of this oil has led to various environmental issues such as global warming, acid mine drainage, and soil and air pollution resulting from toxic emissions and heavy metals used during this mining processes. The Californian authorities have therefore taken it upon themselves to ensure that the people involved in this processes are well educated and are aware of mechanism of which they can control the level of disastrous occurrences.


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