September 11, 2014

More again on California groundwater

By Damien M. Schiff Senior Attorney

Last week we noted the filing of our amicus letter on behalf of the California Farm Bureau Federation, to support Siskiyou County’s request for the California Supreme Court to review immediately the trial court’s decision extending the public trust doctrine to groundwater extraction.  Shortly thereafter, the Real Party in Interest environmental parties filed their response, agreeing with the County that the Supreme Court should hear the appeal now.  That’s a good sign that the Court may very well take up the case.

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Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board

Environmentalists sued the State of California and Siskiyou County on the theory that the government’s failure to regulate groundwater violates the public trust doctrine. This doctrine traditionally applies only to navigable waters and entrusts the government with the responsibility to preserve the land and resources for productive, recreational, and environmental uses. No California court had ever applied the public trust doctrine to groundwater until the Sacramento Superior Court did so in this case. As amicus on behalf of property owners and farmers, PLF asks the Court of Appeal to reverse this unwarranted, vast expansion of the public trust doctrine.

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