13 January 2010

Holy Cow! Non-beneficial use?

California's State Water Resources Control Board is going to decide if a "water feature" at Hidden Valley Estates wastes water, i.e., CR says:
It sounds like some family in Northern California got into a pissing match with their homeowner's association and decided to file a complaint with the RWQCB. They allege that the lake in the gated community is an unreasonable use of water because of the seepage (the lake is unlined). They also say that the seepage has damaged their property.

The Regional Board seems to concur that the seepage "constituted misuse because it had 'damaged and thus likely devalued Complainants’ properties while serving no beneficial use.'”

My question is: could this possibly have repercussions on any unlined non-natural body of water? If seepage in an unlined pond is a non-beneficial use of water, could water be withheld from entities that have them?
My assumption (to now) was that anything that people wanted to do with water was a "beneficial use," and I would have thought a "water feature" would qualify for beneficial use because of its (presumed) positive impact on property values.

Of course, IID was forced into the QSA (and selling water to SDCWA) with the threat that their use would be called "non-beneficial," but this is the first time I have heard of it being applied to residential use. As for CR's other question (unlined ponds), I have no opinion. Use is use.

The hearing has been delayed to Jan 28 [PDF]. I'm interested to hear what happens.

Bottom Line: Although we want people to use water wisely, bureaucratic judgments of "wise" are unlikely to be right or justifiable. If water were priced in a market (like oil or gasoline), then we'd not have to ask these silly questions.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting - guess you'd have to look up in Calfornia statute how the state defines "beneficial use" in this case. Usually, most western states have made provisions for "ecosystem" or "environmental" benefits. I would assume that CA is similar.
    But this is odd....

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  2. WaterSourceWaterBank14 January, 2010 04:39

    DZ says, "If water were priced in a market (like oil or gasoline), then we'd not have to ask these silly questions."

    "A Market" means you have something to sell that you have the right to sell.

    In this case "sell" means you can transfer the rights associated with care, custody and control.

    The rights mean the authority to use in certain specific ways.

    The authority means from those authorized by law to administer and distribute the rights acquired from/by the market.

    For the protection of the buyer, all of this must be guaranteed by the Law and upheld by Courts of proper jurisdiction.

    California simply does not have a water system based in law that will provide for the functioning market that you advocate.

    Beneficial Use is a meaningful ingredient associated with a real water right in a real water allocation system.

    In a real water system, a change in prescribed use without acquiring the necessary approval accoording to the procedure prescribed by Law to a new recognized beneficial would negate the water right's priority of use.

    California can continue to allocate $billions to put lipstick on their pet pig, but it will still be a pig in quagmire.

    However, the water market you want in California is possible .... listening is required.

    waterrdw@yahoo.com WaterSource/WaterBank

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  3. Eric, California allows for municipal use (which I would think this should fall under, although I could be wrong), and for recreational uses (including non-contact aesthetic beauty). Both are specifically considered to be among the recognized beneficial uses.

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