California should more enforce the state’s ban on wasteful water use and crack down on inefficient irrigation practices. In a report that will be presented next week to the State Water Resources Control Board, Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson wades into a potentially explosive area of water law: the “reasonable use” doctrine in the state Constitution.
The principle, reinforced in statute and court decisions, holds that a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use.”
His report recommends that the state board convene a summit, create an enforcement unit and streamline what Wilson characterized as “cumbersome” enforcement procedures.
“I think it’s long past time that the state focus on what is really a reasonable and beneficial use of our water,” said Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick, who has argued that California agriculture could cut its water use by 10% to 15% if it adopted more sophisticated irrigation techniques. “There’s been no effort to identify and challenge unreasonable uses of water.”
“It’s a hard issue to raise,” Gleick added. “Because one person’s reasonable use is another person’s unreasonable use.”
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