I have come to believe that Ag and other interests project California water rights as “too complex” for ordinary folks to understand in order to intentionally discourage citizens from understand them and therefore being empowered to weigh in. I’ll bet, for example, that most citizens of the state believe what the Farm Bureau repeats over and over – that water rights are straight up property rights.
Many (most?) in the environmental community buy into that mystification and believe they need a water lawyer in order to be involved in water right and Public Trust issues.
There is no doubt that California Water Rights are not simple and straightforward. But they are NOT unintelligible; ordinary citizens (and even reporters!) can understand California Water Rights IF they are given the opportunity (and have the desire).
Shouldn’t our organizations give citizens that opportunity through our public education functions (web pages, Facebook, Op-Eds, letters to editors, programs and seminars). To that end attached for your edification and use is a California Water Rights Primer which I find eminently good and readable. Best of all it is comprehensive – including groundwater rights: I learned a lot about groundwater law from reading it.
The California Water Impact Network also has a “California Water Rights Primer” on their web site at this link.