California Water Resources

University of California

Hastings College of the Law

Professor Brian E. Gray

Fall Semester 2014

Wednesdays: 10:50-11:50 and Fridays 9:40-11:50

Room M-101

Office Hours: By Appointment

198 McAllister Street, 2nd Mezzanine, Room 216

(415) 565-4719

California Water Resources

Welcome to California Water Resources.  This class provides an overview of the basic doctrines of United States water rights law, as well as a detailed study of California water resources management.  We will study riparian rights, the prior appropriation system, groundwater rights, prescription, instream water rights, area-of-origin protections, and the important limitations on water rights embodied in the doctrines reasonable and beneficial use and the public trust.  We also will consider the application of the modern environmental laws on water rights and water use.  These laws include the Clean Water Act, the California Porter-Cologne Act, the federal and state Endangered Species Acts, the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, and section 5937 of the California Fish and Game Code.  

We will analyze these legal topics by focusing on many of the great water development projects of the 19th and 20th Centuries: the gold rush and the spread of irrigated agriculture in the Central Valley; Los Angeles’ dewatering of the Owens Valley and Mono Basin; San Francisco’s damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley; the United States’ exploitation of the waters of the Lower Colorado River; and construction of the federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project.  In turn, we will study the series of actions to restore the natural resources that have been degraded by these projects, which began in the late-20th Century and have continued into the 21st Century.  These actions include the famous Mono Lake litigation, the ill-fated CALFED Bay-Delta Program, the San Joaquin River restoration settlement, the Delta Vision process and the enactment of the 2009 Delta Protection Act, the on-going Bay-Delta Conservation Plan negotiations, the State Water Resources Control Board's regulatory process to set water quality and stream flow standards for the Sacramento-San Joaquin River and Delta Ecosystem, and the continuing efforts to resolve the endangered species-water supply conflict over the Klamath River.  We also will consider the severe drought that is afflicting California and the other western states, as well as the likely effects of global warming and climate change on California’s future water supplies and water resources planning.

On these web pages, you will find class assignments, updates, and links to other resources.