Local Matters.

The general strategy and outline for covering law on TDB is going to be broken into three basic components — and, parenthetically, let me just say: you’ll be hearing more about SCOTUS, Prop 8, and DOMA Monday — one of which is this: in tackling local courts, you often get to enjoy moments that might not otherwise reach The Supreme Court.

There is — for instance — l’histoire d’une homme who filed a claim citing misrepresentation by council who wouldn’t let him “file a post judgment motion” to reduce his life in prison for a double murder to a misdemeanor, though — in his reply — Judge Chun brings up three cases worth taking a quick look at (should you all so desire) — Strickland v. Washington, People v. Linares, and People v. Baldi.

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On the other side of the country, we’re dealing with the water of Santa Maria, and it’s heartening that the decision City of Santa Maria v. Adam seems to suggest that more proactive steps are being taken in California than what the recent reports out of Texas suggest.

The water in questions covers 163,700 acres altogether, and is a review of a case that had wound through five phases. “The State of California owns all of the groundwater in California,” the Court writes, “not as a proprietary owner, but in a manner that empowers it to supervise and regulate water use,” emphasizing — typically — (per Water Code 106) domestic use first, and irrigation second.

It introduces us to the terms “overlying rights,” “riparia rights,” “prescriptive rights,” and “appropriative rights.” If you have appropriative rights, you can take the safe yield of water — that is, what doesn’t put water into deficit.

We learn of the construction of percolation ponds. We learn that water isn’t just water — it’s native groundwater, return flow, and salvaged water. We learn of the GSWC objecting to 80% of the water of Twitchall Dam being made available to the public. We see someone say that overlying rights should trump appropriative rights.

And — for what it’s worth — I asked a friend who’s a water engineer what her ideal governmental relationship with water is, and she cited New York and Massachusetts, saying that “both have huge water conveyance systems to major metropolitan areas that are based almost entirely on gravity.”

Have a good weekend.

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