California water wars. The rules just drastically changed

Flickr photo by Tsja!

A recent California Superior Court decision ruled that those who illegally divert water from streams and rivers can be sued because the consequent lack of water downstream, with its resultant problems, constitutes a violation of the public trust.

Among other things, this means governmental entities that are charged with maintaining such resources can also be sued. Environmental groups have most definitely taken note of this ruling and are planning actions.

“This new Superior Court ruling on Monday says that anyone who diverts water must provide enough flow for downstream fish and if they don’t they can be sued by anyone,” said Chris Malan of the Livings Rivers Council in Napa. He said there are at least 286 illegal water diversions in the Napa River watershed and that many of them are by vineyards.

Apparently, the applicable laws have barely been enforced, if not just completely ignored. Such diversions of water can mean that downstream areas dry up during the summer, killing fish and wildlife.

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