Thursday April 4, 2024

ABC 10

Water access in California has seen growing scrutiny as the climate shifts from more extreme dry to wet swings. This results in increasing year-to-year uncertainty for both commercial and residential water availability.

One area getting more attention from an ethical and practical application is the system of water rights, which first took shape in the late 1800s.

Cody Phillips with the California Coastkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit focused on providing safe water for all Californians, says the right to water in the state really started with the gold rush. He says people would stake a claim to water the same way they would come out and claim land to mine.

It could happen in a couple of ways, starting with owning land next to a river, which gives them access to water. If you claimed the land first, you got senior water rights. If you claimed it last, you got junior water rights.

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