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Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Board

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20154
Nos. C083239, (Cal. Ct. App., 08/29/2018) (Raye, J.)

A California appellate court affirmed a trial court decision concerning application of the state's public trust doctrine to the state's extraction of groundwater in the Scott River watershed. Environmental groups argued that groundwater resources that are interconnected with the surface water flows of the Scott River are subject to and protected by the public trust doctrine. The trial court agreed, concluding that the doctrine did apply to the groundwater resources of the Scott River region. On appeal, the county in which the watershed is located argued that the state's enactment of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act displaced and superseded the public trust doctrine's applicability to groundwater resources. But the appellate court concluded that by enacting the Act the state legislature did not intend to occupy the entire field of groundwater management and thereby abolish the public trust doctrine's application to the groundwater resources at issue. It therefore affirmed the trial court decision.