For Assistance with your Water Rights Issues, Contact the California Water Rights Lawyers at Schlecht, Shevlin & Shoenberger
Serving Riverside and San Bernardino County in all water law matters
Water rights battles in California are infamous. Few people understand water law, and the confusion gives rise to complex and prolonged litigation between parties vying for the right to use a precious resource. Schlecht, Shevlin & Shoenberger, based in Riverside County, is one of California’s preeminent water rights law firms. They help you fight for the water rights to which you are entitled.
The basics of water rights in California
There are two kinds of water uses under California law: riparian and appropriative rights. Riparian rights arise under common law as the right to divert, use and enjoy water that abuts your property. All property owners abutting a stream or river have a right to use a percentage of the water that flows in the river or stream each year for domestic or agricultural use. The percentage remains the same regardless of the annual water flow. If you possess riparian rights, you cannot lose those rights unless someone diverts your water for five years and you do not stop them. Acquiring rights this way is known as “prescriptive rights.” Upstream landowners can divert water to downstream riparian land provided that the diversion does not damage intervening landowners. Owners of riparian rights cannot transfer those rights to non-riparian landowners.
Appropriative water rights in California are rights arising under permit from the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The SWRCB requires a non-adjacent property owner to obtain a permit to remove water from a stream or river. Anyone who appropriated water prior to December 1914 is “grandfathered in” with respect to permitting. If challenged, the grandfathered water rights holder must document the history of appropriation rights through a “record of use.”
The role of water rights attorneys in California
Because water rights are so valuable in California, this area of the law is ripe for disputes. If there is insufficient water available for riparian water rights holders, the only recourse is through the courts. In addition, water rights attorneys in California represent clients in permitting requests and appropriation enforcement actions by the SWRCB. These are just a few of the water rights issues that require the services of a water rights attorney in California. Water rights law is a highly specialized practice requiring an experienced water rights lawyer. Schlecht, Shevlin & Shoenberger, a law corporation, has been practicing water rights law in California since 1951.