Thursday, July 16, 2020

Abatti v. Imperial Irrigation Dist. (Cal. Ct. App. - July 16, 2020)

I remember people telling students back when I was in law school (many decades ago) that water rights were going to involve huge legal disputes in the future.

If today's 106-page opinion by Justice Aaron is any indication, they were right.

Even though it's the size of a small book, the opinion doesn't even really resolve the merits of the competing allocations.  The Court of Appeal simply decides that it's an abuse of discretion to put agricultural uses of water last -- at the very end of the line (behind all other users), resulting in water limitations on them when there aren't corresponding limitations on others.  How the District should in fact allocate water rights is left for another day.

And, presumably, another 106 pages or so.

At least in the Imperial Valley, agriculture accounts for 97 percent of water use.  So farmers are the ones who are going to bear the brunt of any water reduction regardless of how it's doled out.  Still:  maybe no reason to put them on the absolute bottom and not constrain anyone else.

You've definitely not heard the last of this, or other, water wars.