Wednesday September 27, 2023

Legal Planet

Earlier this month, California’s Legislature passed a slate of bills that cover a range of environmental and climate issues. Among those was Assemblymember Lori Wilson’s AB 779, a bill we helped create to improve the groundwater adjudication process for all water users.

Adjudications legally determine groundwater rights but can take years and cost millions of dollars. This hurts all groundwater users, and is especially burdensome for small farmers, farmers of color, and other historically marginalized groundwater users. Assemblymember Wilson, and we, wanted to ensure those communities were not left behind in these crucial proceedings. So as students in UCLA Law’s California Environmental Legislation and Policy Clinic (Fall 2022-Spring 2023), we worked with Assemblymember Wilson’s office to help make the adjudication process more fair.

After multiple rounds of stakeholder interviews, research, and legislative drafting, in March 2023, we traveled to Sacramento to provide witness testimony in support of AB 779 to the State Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife. Before the committee, we explained that AB 779 will create a more transparent, efficient, and fair groundwater adjudication process for all groundwater users.

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