EL CENTRO — Members of the Water Conservation Advisory Board last week used an article published in this newspaper as the basis of criticism of the IID board of directors.

The article, which appeared Jan. 9, discussed concerns about economic opportunities that may be lost if IID loses its appeal in a lawsuit with local farmer Michael Abatti over water rights.

Staff Writer Michael Maresh can be reached at mmaresh@ivpressonline.com.

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(1) comment

Wally Leimgruber

A California appropriative water right must identify the real property upon which the water right will be exercised; use is limited to that property; and the right runs with that land. The water right is "appurtenant" to that real property. For a pre-1914 right, the land description is required in the posting and recordation, and for a permitted right, the land description is in the application and permit.

The District has a service territory within which it provides water under its appropriative water rights. That service territory is described in its pre-1914 posting, in its permitted water rights, and in its 1932 contract. The District's water rights are appurtenant to the land of this service territory, even though the District does not own all of that land.

The District also has present perfected rights for water use in the same service territory. These territorial grants and limits on the District's water rights create appurtenancy in favor of the District. But, not to anyone else.

There are no indicia of appurtenancy in favor of any existing land owner; via a pre-1914 posting, a deed recordation or a permit issued in their name. Location is relevant to a right-to-service within the District's authorized service territory. But, appurtenancy is not, as it pertains only to water right holders. The right to service exists by virtue of the user being within the service territory to which the District's water rights are appurtenant and using water for an authorized purpose. There is nothing appurtenant to be owned by any individual landowner. As expressly provided by §22262, "No right in any water or water right owned by the district shall be acquired by use permitted under this article."

The equitable right to service and historical use of water by landowners, both recognized in Bryant, does nothing to move the appurtenancy decreed to the District by the U.S. Supreme Court in Arizona v. California to the irrigating landowners. Irrigating landowners are benefitted by being users within the District's service territory. So are non-irrigating landowners.

Thus, providing service to anyone within the District's service territory does not involve moving a water right appurtenant from one owner's lands to another's land.

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