Stokes O'Brien

Learn About Water Rights From Our Attorneys

Posted in Business and Real Estate Litigation on January 15, 2020

The State of California defines water right as “a legal entitlement authorizing water to be diverted from a specified source and put to beneficial, non-wasteful use. Water rights are property rights, but their holders do not own the water itself. They possess the right to use it…”

Learn more about water rights and how our attorneys can help.

Water Allocation and Water Rights

When it comes to agricultural water usage, several legal matters such as quantity, allocation, and irrigation are presented. To assure compliance with state and federal regulations, a solutions-based approach is needed to resolve our current water supply/quality issues. 

Surface water utilized for agricultural purposes can be sourced from lakes, rivers, ponds, or from an aquifer. State laws determine allocation of surface waters. Currently, the United States has three different allocation systems: 

  • The riparian doctrine – originated in eastern United States – water is allocated among individuals who possess land along its path;
  • The prior appropriation doctrine – started in western United States – water rights are established by priority of favorable use; and 
  • A hybrid system that combines sections of the prior appropriation and the riparian doctrines.

The west coast’s water rights laws are different from those on the east coast. Water rights law practices are more common throughout the western U.S., since water is scarce in that region. But as more urban areas emerge throughout the country, water rights issues and water quality laws will spread and take center stage.

Due to the specialized nature of water laws and individual rights to use water, challenges and related matters are often complicated, confusing and multidisciplinary, creating a perfect scenario where potential problems slip through the cracks. 

Seeking legal counsel from a water rights attorney is highly recommended. Water rights legal experts are well-versed with state and federal water laws, including dispute resolution, corporate issues and title affairs. These attorneys can represent private and public agencies that come face-to-face with water–related matters. Such agencies include cities, counties, water suppliers and water supply management offices. 

Water rights attorneys are specialists in the regulations that govern and manage the use and allocation of water. Typically, attorneys help clients obtain water rights, defend water rights, and transfer water rights. Further, legal practitioners can determine the validity of such rights and enforce conditions on their use. They should also be knowledgeable of the basic engineering, policy development, economics, and technology that accompany water rights matters. 

Water Rights Attorneys Are Ready to Help

The successful water rights attorneys at Stokes O’Brien represent clients in a wide variety of water rights proceedings, litigation and landowner disputes involving water. If you need legal counsel regarding water rights, contact us at (619) 648-2793 to get the most qualified and experienced attorney for your needs. We offer legal solutions, tailored to meet the individual needs of our clients.