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JUDICIAL: Including California state, water use

In Modesto Irrigation Dist. v. Tanaka, No. C083430, 2020 WL 2213886 (Cal. Ct. App. May 7, 2020), a California State Court of Appeals considered the appeal of a lower court decision which had concluded that the appellant, Heather Robinson Tanaka, had no rights to divert water onto her property which had been operating as a farm for over 100 years. Ultimately, the court of appeals reversed the lower court’s decision.

The property at issue in this case had once been part of a large riparian tract that abutted the Middle River. Because the tract had abutted the river, it could use all the water from the river that it needed to fill its needs according to the riparian water rights theory. The tract had been subdivided when Tanaka’s great-grandfather bought the property in 1890, and the subdivided property did not abut the Middle River. In 1925, Tanaka’s grandfather built a canal that has been used ever since to pump water from the Middle River to irrigate the property. In 2011, the Modesto Irrigation District (“MID”) sought to enjoin Tanaka from using water from the Middle River to irrigate the property, arguing that when the deed of sale from the property was executed in 1890, there was no intention for the riparian water rights to remain with the property after it had been subdivided from the larger tract. Although the lower court agreed with the MID, the court of appeals did not. It reviewed the language of the deed and concluded that at the time it was written, the deed would have been understood to convey riparian water rights. The court pointed to the language in the deed that transferred all “appurtenances” belonging to the property to support its conclusion. According to the court, at the time the deed was drafted, all parties would have understood that “appurtenances” included riparian water rights. Additionally, the court noted that Tanaka’s great-grandfather bought the property with the intent of farming it. Even though the deed did not explicitly state that the riparian rights were transferring it to the property, the court felt that the understood meaning at the time of the word “appurtenances” combined with the intent to farm the property after purchase were enough to conclude that the property had rights to use water from the Middle River.




Notice of filing of a pesticide petition requesting the establishment or modification of regulations for residues of pesticide chemicals in or on various commodities. Info here.


Final rule establishing fishery management measures for the 2020 ocean salmon fisheries off Washington, Oregon, and California and the 2021 salmon seasons opening earlier than the effective date of the 2021 rule. Info here.