The finance, insurance and real estate oligopoly in California has bought itself a Congressional bill to destroy the San Joaquin River Settlement. The settlement, which took 18 years in court and three years in Congress to reach accord on how to put water back into a 80-mile reach of the San Joaquin River diverted by the FRiant-Kern Canal. The bill, H.R. 1837, passed the House Resources Committee last week.
A great wrong, set right again, could be set wrong again.
We thought we would revisit some of the most basic policies and laws governing California in light of this current attempt to return to the spirit of primitive accumulation.
The two poles of water rights in California are riparian rights and prior appropriation rights.
Riparian rights came from the Middle Ages through English Common Law to the American Colonies. Under the riparian rights doctrine, only people owning riverbank land had rights to use river water to drink, water their crops and livestock. People living away from rivers and streams used wells. Riparian rights did not imply any ownership of the river. Rivers were conceived of as belonging to God or to themselves. The riparian right was a seen as a use right, not a property right.Read More »