A Conversation About Takings and Water Rights
42 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2006
Dramatis Personae (in order of appearance):
Faith is a farmer in California who receives water from a project operated by the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), an agency of the U.S. government. Her 320-acre farm was established by her parents 40 years ago, on arid land they bought in anticipation of the federal government's building that water project to capture, store, and deliver water to irrigate the farm and others like it. For most of the last four decades, in years of normal and wet precipitation, Faith has received 1600 acre-feet of water to irrigate cotton. In drought years, she has received less, and in a couple of extremely dry years she has received no water. Over the most recent several years, however, the government has taken steps, mandated by a suite of federal and state laws (most prominently, the federal Endangered Species Act), to restore some semblance of aquatic health to the river system that supplies water to Faith and other farmers. These steps have led the BOR to interrupt delivery of water to Faith more often than previously in years of less-than-normal precipitation. Faith has filed a claim for compensation. This conversation assumes that Faith can claim a legal interest in a surface water right under the California state law of prior appropriation for the water used to irrigate her farmland.
Frank is a government lawyer representing the project that delivers water to Faith.
Rodger is Faith's lawyer.
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