29 Jun 2011

Bleg -- Bottled water property rights?

DB asks:
I am trying to figure out if bottled water companies are considered overlying owners or appropriators under California groundwater law. I have read that groundwater users that extract water and use it on land they own are overlying owners, but does bottling water for export count as using the water?

I have read unclear accounts that discuss when a bottler extracts from point A and bottles it at point B, and is thus not an overlying owner, but the discussion was in reference to TX, and regardless, I am still unsure if a bottler's physical act of bottling counts as a "use" and thus would also be a overlying owner if they extract and bottle at the source.
My first response is that beneficial use of groundwater ON a property is allowed, even if that water is then exported in bottles. Can you divert it to a distant, non-contiguous property? Doubt it, since this is not a matter of prior appropriation rights.

Any opinions (or, better yet, facts) on this question?