Today, Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) announced that Assembly Bill 1390, a bipartisan measure to streamline and bring new efficiency to the process for adjudicating groundwater rights, was signed by the Governor. Together with its companion bill, Senate Bill 226, authored by Senator Pavley (D – Agoura Hills), AB 1390 serves as the Governor’s promised follow-up to last year’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), a historic measure which regulated groundwater in California. At the time, adjudication was considered too complex to address as part of SGMA.
“Streamlining the process for how groundwater rights are adjudicated in court was daunting. But through countless meetings with the Governor’s office, farmers, water districts and numerous other stakeholders, we were finally able to address the vexing process for how groundwater rights are determined in a fair and bipartisan way,” states Alejo. “I am proud to have partnered with the California Farm Bureau Federation on this historic effort and I am confident this legislation will cut the court cost and time it takes to adjudicate ground water rights in California.”
Groundwater adjudications are notoriously complex, time-consuming and expensive. Currently, it can take up to fifteen years to adjudicate a basin, involve hundreds of lawyers and cost tens of millions of dollars.
“Making groundwater adjudications more efficient will relieve a burden on the courts, and at the same time, it will provide a clear and transparent process for determining groundwater rights, bringing a double benefit to the entire process. While the bill will make the process quicker and easier, we are under no illusion that adjudications can be made short and easy,” states Alejo. “But AB 1390 will certainly make the process more efficient while protecting due-process rights for all involved.”
Assembly Bill 1390 will go into effect January 1, 2016