By Glen C. Hansen

On May 27, 2014, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Board”) issued curtailment notices to all post-1914 appropriative water right holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin, Russian, and Eel River watersheds. On October 3, 2014, the Executive Director of the Board issued a letter to appropriate water rights holders that discussed the Board’s plan to temporarily lift such curtailments during future rainfall events. (The letter is found at Because the conditions in many of the State’s watersheds “continue to demonstrate that there is insufficient water available to meet reported demand,” the Board intends to “temporarily lift curtailments during significant storm events to capture new precipitation.” The Executive Director explained that policy as follows: 

Due to the possibility for prolonged dry conditions, the State Water Board does not want to limit the potential for water right holders in the curtailed watersheds to collect water to storage during near-term substantial precipitation events. If dry conditions persist, then it is in the public interest to maximize the amount of water diverted to storage for later beneficial use, particularly given the low storage levels at the outset of the water year. Until the time when curtailments are permanently lifted based on the water availability/demand analysis, the State Water Board plans to provide notice of periodic opportunities during storm events to divert water. Since such notices will be reactive to precipitation events, the State Water Board’s notices will be distributed on a real-time basis solely via email through the Drought email subscription available at: (select Water Rights and then Drought Updates). Notices will not be mailed out. Should the State Water Board temporarily lift curtailments, you will be authorized to immediately divert water under your post-1914 right, provided your right authorizes diversion at that time and you comply with all other terms and conditions of your right. You are responsible for monitoring your email account and taking immediate action to cease diversion of water under your post-1914 rights should the State Water Board send a follow-up curtailment notice. Failure to cease diversions after that notice will be subject to enforcement.

The State Water Board considers implementation of this real-time early precipitation plan in the public interest because it increases water storage supplies at every opportunity. The State Water Board also considers the potential for injury to most senior water right holders to be minimal. The lifting of curtailment, however, does not release junior water right holders from the standard obligation to allow water to pass for senior diverters when they must do so to satisfy senior water rights. For this reason, water right holders should maintain a record of daily diversions in case a complaint by a senior right holder alleges injury resulting from the diversions. The State Water Board will request such records if complaints are received. Water right holders should monitor the State Water Board’s email notices and/or website to take advantage of these temporary actions. [Bold and italics added.]

Appropriative water rights holders are therefore urged to make sure the Board has their accurate email addresses, and to monitor all correspondence from the Board (or frequently check the Board’s website when there is the possibly of rain in the forecast).

Glen C. Hansen is senior counsel at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP.  For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, or the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.

Continue Reading State Water Resources Control Board Issues Notice Of Plan To Temporarily Lift Curtailments During Future Rainfall Events

The following article by Diane Kindermann was published by the Orange County Lawyer Magazine in its August 2014 issue.  It encapsulates the State of California’s response to the drought through state legislation, local regulation, litigation, and new technical guidance addressing both surface and groundwater.  To read the entire article click here.

Since the original

As directed by the Governor’s drought state of emergency, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has identified 17 communities that are at risk of running out of drinking water. The CDPH will work with these communities to ensure that the required conservation measures are in place and provide assistance to identify additional water sources. For more

 By William W. Abbott

Griffith v. Pajaro Valley Water Mgt. Agency (October 14, 2013) ___ Cal.App.4th ___. 

The long saga of the groundwater augmentation strategy for Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County has reached its next, and possibly final stopping point. The underlying saga is a telltale forecast of what lies ahead for California, with the inevitable conflicts generated by resource allocation and management. In Griffith, the specific conflict stems from the intersection of groundwater management strategies designed in part to better manage water resources and to reduce saltwater intrusion with the citizen rights created by Proposition 218.

Continue Reading Court Affirms Groundwater Augmentation Charge Exempt From Proposition 218 As A Water Service Charge

By Diane Kindermann, William W. Abbott, Glen Hansen and Katherine J. Hart

Welcome to Abbott & Kindermann’s 2013 Mid-Year Environmental update. This update discusses selected litigation, regulations / administrative guidance and pending legislation, on both the federal and state levels, in the following general areas of environmental law: (A) Water Supply, (B) Water Quality, (C) Wetlands, (D) Air Quality, (E) Endangered Species, (F) NEPA, (G) Mining / Oil & Gas, and (H) Cultural Resources.


By Katherine J. Hart

In Voices for Rural Living v. El Dorado Irrigation District, the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, affirmed the trial court’s determinations that (1) the small project categorical exemption in CEQA did not apply to exempt an agreement for water service from CEQA review due to the unusual circumstances surrounding the agreement, and (2) a local water district lacked authority to disregard or deem unconstitutional annexation conditions previously imposed by the local agency formation commission (LAFCo).

Continue Reading Class 3 CEQA Exemption: Unusual Circumstances Exception Becoming Less Unusual?

In 2008, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (“FWS”) issued a biological opinion (“BiOp”) under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act that addressed the impacts of the coordinated operations of the federal Central Valley Project and State Water Project on a threatened fish known as the California delta smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California enjoined a provision of the BiOp that set a certain location in the Delta where a salinity standard had to be met, which location determined the level of water outflows from the Delta. The court stated: “The agencies still ‘don’t get it.’ They continue to believe their ‘right to be mistaken’ excuses precise and competent scientific analysis for actions they know will wreak havoc on California’s water supply.”
Continue Reading In Operation Of Water Projects, Federal Agencies Enjoined From Implementing Delta Smelt Biological Opinion

Abbott & Kindermann’s Annual Land Use, Real Estate, and Environmental Law Update

Reserve your seat for one of three seminars taking place in 2011.

In January and February 2011 Abbott & Kindermann, LLP will present its annual complimentary educational program for clients and colleagues interested in current land use, environmental, and real estate issues affecting commercial and residential development, real estate acquisition, easements, leasing and property acquisition, and mining.
Continue Reading REMINDER! Save the Date!