San Diego Law Review

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type



This Comment argues that the California state legislature should take direct control of private water use rights through legislation that amends California’sConstitution Article X, Section 2, providing the state with the police powerto take back private water rights and centralize control over water management and distribution.[1] It also recommends imposing higher requirements for land development and water agency cooperation in standard form, state-controlled“general plans” to create efficiency in distributing water throughout the stateand in planning new land developments. The public trust doctrine, eminentdomain doctrine, and regulatory takings doctrine are possible justifications the state could use to effectuate the new legislation. Part I of this Comment will provide background on the different categories of water rights in California, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and major water supply projects, the different groups demanding water in California, the history of legislation that arose with each major drought in California, and land use planning laws. Part II will argue that the state should take direct control over private water rights in California, a concept legally justified by the public trust doctrine, eminentdomain, and the regulatory use doctrine. Part III will explain the logistics of enacting this proposal, including implementing the suggested constitutionalamendment and improving the “general plans” required before land development occurs, along with the counterarguments and implications ofthe proposal. Part IV will conclude that this power transfer from individuals and cities to the state is essential in a state that has inconsistent and failing policies with coordinating land development and water supplies, and it is especially necessary in this period of drought.

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