California’s Water Bank And The Drought in California - A California Water Law Attorney Analysis

By Sebastian Gibson Published 10/18/2008 | Legal , Environment

Even if you live in the desert cities of Palm Springs, CA, Joshua Tree, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Yucca Valley, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Twentynine Palms, Thermal, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley or Barstow, or in greener areas of Southern California such as Newport Beach, Buena Park, Anaheim, Irvine, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Carlsbad, Mission Viejo or other cities in San Diego or Orange County, or in areas such as Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Cambria or agricultural areas such as the central valley where Fresno is located, or the Imperial Valley which feel the water pinch even more acutely, the drought in California is a serious problem for all of us in this State.

After the driest spring in 88 years, in June 2008 Governor Schwarzenegger formally declared California to be in a drought and nine counties in the Central Valley to be in a state of emergency after two years of below-average rainfall and six dry years that have killed off fish populations, driven down agricultural land values and required severe reductions in water usage in the Central Valley. The declaration, while bad enough, still stops short of a statewide water emergency which, if declared, will likely carry with it mandatory water rationing.

Efforts to capture water have been hampered by evaporation of snow packs due to climate change, but snowpack water content this winter was only 67 percent of average. California’s water shortage was compounded by a federal court order limiting the pumping of water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta to protect a species of fish.

And so in June 2008 the State of California formed a Water Bank to buy water from farmers upstream from the Delta and from local water agencies and to make it available for sale to public water systems and private water systems who may otherwise run short of water next year. Agencies buying the water will have to agree to a 20 percent reduction overall in water usage. It is believed that the Water Bank will stave off mandatory water rationing.

Under the plan, water purchased from northern farmers and water agencies will be shipped south via the State’s canals.

Currently, there is no end in sight to California’s dry conditions. While there is a $9.3 billion plan in the State legislature to address the state’s delta environmental problems and expand the state’s water works, it has been tied up while the legislators haggled over a budget.

A bill to require Californian’s to cut water usage by 20 percent recently passed the Assembly and the bill puts the onus on residents as opposed to farmers.

In the midst of this water crisis, an amazing 100 facilities are bottling water in California, using California’s precious water supply. An Assembly Bill to measure the amount of water being bottled is an attempt to learn just how bad the abuse of these water supplies is on top of the pollution and harm to the environment caused by these facilities and the plastic water bottles, most of which are not recycled.

The Department of Public Resources estimates that more than 1 billion gallons of bottled water are sold in California each year.

If you have a water law legal issue anywhere in Southern or Central California including Orange County, San Diego, or any of the cities in the Coachella Valley including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, Twentynine Palms, Thermal, Indio, Coachella, La Quinta, Victorville, Hesperia, Apple Valley or Barstow, or in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Temecula, the Central Coast, or in Fresno, or the Imperial Valley or anywhere in California, we can provide you with representation as you as your California Water Lawyer, your California Resources Attorney or your law firm wherever you live. Visit our website at for more information.