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Bloggers discuss Texas groundwater, California’s future, and more

In this week’s installment, two posts look at California’s water future, with both advocating a big-picture approach to water planning going forward.  Meanwhile, the Texas Living Waters Project examines recent court rulings on groundwater, and the Huffington Post reminds us that recent California rains have not ended the drought.

California’s Future

Competing water futures for California
Kate Poole, writing for the NRDC’s Switchboard, describes what she argues are the two potential futures for California water policy.  The path she favors combines urban conservation and reuse along with agricultural efficiency and predictable supply state delivery reform.  These measures, in turn, will save enough water to also allow for increased river flow, enhancing ecosystems.  The alternative, she argues, are “cynical” attempts at the federal level to roll back environmental protections in the name of boosting supply.

Shaping water storage in California
Jay Lund, Maurice Hall and Anthony Saracino provide an overview of a new study from the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences on potential water storage options in the state.  The authors advocate considering new storage projects as part of a larger system instead of looking only at isolated projects.  Overall, the authors find that there is only enough streamflow in the state to support between 5 and 6 million acre-feet of new storage, which, given a yield of 5-15%, would boost the state’s total supply by about 5%.

Texas Groundwater Law

Texas’ courts legal treatment of groundwater is fluid
Annie Kellough, writing for the Texas Water Solutions blog, surveys recent Texas court cases pertaining to groundwater law. Texas courts apply the “rule of capture” in groundwater cases, meaning landowners have absolute ownership of the water under their property and may extract it regardless of its effect on their neighbors’ water.  This is a principle from the state’s oil and gas law, recently extended to groundwater in the case Edwards Aquifer Authority v. Day.  However, Kellough notes that in a recent case, City of Lubbock v. Coyote Lake Ranch, a Texas appeals court declined to extend another oil and gas principle, the accommodation doctrine, to groundwater.  Kellough argues that the courts should develop new doctrine for groundwater, moving away from their oil and gas approach.

Rain and Drought

California rainfall is nothing to get too excited about
Recent rainfall around the Bay Area and Los Angeles have been welcome from a drought perspective, but Lydia O’Connor notes in the Huffington Post that much more rain is needed to make a real difference.  Rainfall for this year is still about 40% below average, while the state needs considerably above-average precipitation to begin to break out of the drought.

Written by Stratecon Staff