Water Activist Meets With
Citizens On Water Law

      Water activist Scott Simpson of Riverside, California, met with Newberry Springs citizens and presented his expertise on California water law.  He advised Newberry Springs residents to fight to maintain their water rights.

Posted November 16, 2014

      A standing room only group of approximately 65 residents from Newberry Springs and elsewhere showed up Saturday afternoon, November 15, 2014, to listen to Scott Simpson share his background and understanding of California water law.

      Starting with early pre-state water rights, Simpson provided a summerized history of the development of water rights and law in the state of California.

      Zeroing-in on the protection of local water rights, Simpson provided his insight on the importance of maintaining one's level of water production under the theory of pump it, or legally lose it.  Much of his presentation centered on the interests of local farmers and their historical water pumping.

      Simpson advised that water pumpers, particularly those who feel that their water rights are being abridged by authorities, should seek legal representation to protect their rights.

      One law firm that Simpson recommended with expertise in water law is Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP.  The Newberry Springs Community Alliance is well aware of this (what we consider as a dirtbag) lawfirm.  Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is the mastermind behind the Cadiz, Inc. planned seizure of 50,000 acre feet a year of San Bernardino County water, without compensation to the county, for transfer to Orange and Los Angeles counties.

      That's 50,000 acre feet of water for each of a 50 year period.  A total of 2.5-million acre feet of free water that was given away by corrupt Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt with the help of cohort Supervisors Janice Rutherford, Gary Ovitt, and Josie Gonzales.  Only Supervisor Neil Derry voted against this historic giveaway of San Bernardino county's public assets.

      Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck is understood to own a high stake in the Cadiz, Inc. project and is expected to make hundreds of millions of dollars from Cadiz, Inc.'s sale of San Bernardino county's water.

      Two years ago this mammoth law firm, that has its tentacles reaching deep into Washington, D.C. politics, threatened the Newberry Springs Community Alliance with legal action in a stupid letter.  The Community Alliance ignored giving this law firm any letter response; but instead reputiated Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck's bullying tactic by publishing their threatening letter and chastising them by posting this link, that silenced them.

      Scott Simpson gave great emphasis that water is owned by the people.  However, it has been long clear under state law that the state has Regulation of Water Rights; such as:

"All water within the state is the property of the people of the state and subject to government regulation.  In addition, navigable waters are subject to the public trust.  The state, as trustee, has a duty to preserve the trust from harmful diversions by the holders of water rights, and to protect the environmental quality of the trust.  The state holds legal title to all water in the state as trustee for the benefit of the people, which gives it a legally cognizable property interest in the water sufficient to sue. . . "
In short, the peoples' water rights are regulated; and farmers pumping an aquifer dry, in an unsustainable manner, is a harmful diversion that the state has an environmental interest to stop.

      There was another major problem with Simpson's presentation content that he didn't seem to become aware of until after his presentation, and after most of the public had left.  That being in a private discussion after the meeting where he recognized that the local water basin is not like his local water basin in Riverside where there is such an over abundance of water that the city of Riverside exports its water to outlying areas.  Newberry Springs is in a devastating overdraft situation whereby farmers pumping is negatively impacting minimum producers.

      After his presentation, Simpson stated that minimum producers also have water rights under their land.  That if they drill wells into their underlying water table, the minimum producers have a right to that water.  And if neighboring farmers then pump the minimum producers water below the minimum producers water pump, the farmers are then seizing the water that belongs to the minimum producers.

      This scenerio, which has been happening in Newberry Springs, Simpson advised is a tort against the minimum producer.  The taking of the minimum producer's water from under the minimum producer's land is an actionable claim in a court of law for damages that the minimum producers can make against the heavy pumping farmers.

      While the alfalfa farmers may be considering taking legal action against authorities trying to limit the farmers' water pumping, the minimum producers should perhaps be taking action against the farmers for the overdraft situation.

      The minimum producers damages would be the costs of replacing their wells and the damages of power costs of having to pump water from deeper depths.

      Riding on the minimum producers' side if they win, could be hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not tens of millions of dollars, in punitive damages being assessed against the heavy pumping farmers.

      Despite being aware of the overdraft situation, the farmers have notoriously purchased, leased, or rented water rights from others, and opened new or fallow fields, and sunk new high capacity wells, to continue the overdraft in an effort to circumvent attempts by the Riverside Superior Court to rampdown water pumping.  The alfalfa farmers have been the major pumpers responsible for the depletion of the ancient aquifers for which they may be held accountable by punitive penalities.

      Mr. Simpson volunteered his services for the meeting that was hosted by the Newberry Springs Chamber of Commerce at the Newberry Springs Community Center.  Attendees were offered refreshments including homemade cookies.

      Mr. Simpson can be contacted by e-mailing: regaffairs (at) aol.com.

Update: CBS 60 Minutes - Depleting the Water (13:55 minutes) -  11/16/14

Related recent blogs:
Planning Sustainable Water - Community Turning Against Farmers -  9/19/14
Angry Residents Call For Rampdowns And Pumping Tax -  9/26/14
Farmers are horrified at proposed draconic rampdowns -  10/4/14
Emergency action necessary to save water supply. -  10/11/14
Pivot farming is seriously depleting local water. -  11/11/14

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