The Banta-Carbona Irrigation District filed its complaint in San Joaquin County Superior Court, asking a judge to overturn the decision last week by the State Water Resources Control Board to temporarily suspend water rights dating back as far as 1903.
Among other arguments, however, water districts like Banta-Carbona argue that the state doesn’t have jurisdiction over water rights issued before 1914. That’s the year the state Legislature first required water diverters to obtain permits.
Bad move, Banta-Carbona ID. Our current system of water rights is good for exactly one thing. The ONLY thing our current water rights system does well is determine the order of curtailments. Besides that, our current system:
Is not fair or just (as between people alive today).
Doesn’t allocate water by economic efficiency (that wouldn’t be my goal, but matters to others).
Isn’t an accurate reflection of available water.
Is not readily understood.
Does not reflect current hydrology or allow for the changing hydrology of climate change.
Isn’t part of a good data management system.
If I were the most privileged users of our current water rights system, I would not tell the State Water Resources Control Board that they can’t use the system for the ONE FUCKING THING IT DOES. If I were the State Water Resources Control Board, trying to accommodate those privileged fucks by using this impossibly junked up system and they sued me for it? I’d put the entire system to the torch. If senior water users are going to sue when we do follow their arcane, unwieldy, unfair system, might as well give up on it and put a good system in place.
Truly, State Board. Look twenty years down the road. What system do you wish you were working under? Be kind to the next generation of board members and give them that.
You could do basin-by-basin cap and trade.
I personally suggest giving every person in the state a headright of 40gppd, setting some nice instream flows, and choosing which six million acres of land should be kept in farming. The acres that should be kept in farming get a farming right of 3.5acrefeet/acre (that reverts if that land isn’t farmed that year). Give four million acres top priority; those get water even in dry years. Another million acres gets medium priority; those get farmed in normal years. The last million acres gets farmed in wet years. Straightforward, predictable, flexible, fair. All the things our current system isn’t.