BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                        AB 426|
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                                    THIRD READING

          Bill No:  AB 426
          Author:   Salas (D)
          Amended:  4/23/13 in Assembly
          Vote:     21

          AYES:  Pavley, Cannella, Evans, Fuller, Hueso, Jackson, Lara,  
            Monning, Wolk

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  51-23, 5/23/13 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT  :    Water transfers:  water right decrees

           SOURCE  :     Author

           DIGEST  :    This bill deletes the requirement that a court decree  
          be issued after January 1, 1981, thereby allowing the State  
          Water Resources Control Board (Board) to approve a water  
          transfer involving any water right determined through a  
          statutory adjudication.

           ANALYSIS  :    

          Existing law:

          1. Authorizes any water rights claimant may petition the Board  
             to commence a "statutory adjudication" of a stream system in  
             which a right is claimed.  Upon conclusion of the proceeding,  


                                                                     AB 426

             the Board adopts an order of determination that is then filed  
             with the court, which issues the decree.  The decree declares  
             the water rights of each party, including the priority and  
             amount, point of diversion, and season, purpose and place of  

          2. Authorizes the Board to approve a water transfer involving a  
             water right determined through a statutory adjudication, if  
             the court decree was issued after January 1, 1981.

          This bill:

          1.  Allows a holder of a pre-1981 water right decreed through a  
             statutory adjudication to voluntarily use an alternative  
             method for seeking a water rights transfer. 

          2. Eliminates the requirement to issue a court decree for water  
             rights transfers after January 1, 1981, and instead, allows  
             the water rights holder to seek a change through the Board.   
             This option is currently available to holders of post-1981  
             statutorily adjudicated water rights or other parties holding  
             permits or licenses.  Applies to temporary, long-term, or  
             permanent water rights transfers.

          The original statute first allowing the holder of rights under a  
          statutorily adjudicated decree to transfer them by voluntarily  
          going to the Board, instead of a court, was enacted on January  
          1, 1981.  The statute, by its own terms, only applied to decrees  
          that were issued after its enactment. 

          A severe drought and significant water shortages between 1976  
          and 1977 highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the state's  
          water rights laws, then-Governor Jerry Brown created the  
          Governor's Commission to Review California Water Rights Law  
          (Commission) and mandated it review existing law and propose  
          modifications.  The "Final Report" issued by that Commission  
          contained detailed legal analyses and recommendations for both  
          administrative actions and statutory changes to the Water Code  

          One major area of the "Final Report" focused on improving  
          efficiencies in water use, including encouraging voluntary  



                                                                     AB 426

          short-term and long-term transfers.  Those sections were  
          enacted, together with several other provisions, in AB 1147  
          (Filante, Chapter 933, Statutes of 1980).  AB 1147 addressed  
          water rights; clarified the ownership of waste water and waste  
          water facilities; and allowed for the transfer of water rights,  
          including rights held subject to a statutory adjudication  
          decree.  In the March 19, 1979, digest to AB 1147, the Office of  
          Legislative Counsel stated that AB 1147 would permit the  
          transfer of any water right, including riparian rights, which  
          has been quantified after the effective date of the bill  
          pursuant to a statutory adjudication. 

          Eight years later, AB 982 (Costa, Chapter 1145, Statutes of  
          1988) amended, repealed, and reordered several of the WAT  
          Sections created under AB 1147.  In the reorder, AB 982 moved  
          the provisions related to transferring rights subject to a  
          statutory adjudication decree from WAT Section 1745 to WAT  
          Section 1740 but left the statutory language virtually  
          unchanged, including the old effective date.  That date was  
          carried forward by deleting "subsequent to the enactment of this  
          legislation" and inserting "after January 1, 1981." 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office, this  
          bill provides an optional, voluntary process for water right  
          holders to gain permission from the State of California to  
          transfer their water rights to other parties but does not  
          mandate that such water rights holders go to the Board for  
          permission.  The author's office states that by authorizing an  
          additional, voluntary process through an administrative agency,  
          that this bill encourages water transfers because it allows  
          those with old water rights to participate in the transfer  
          market through a simpler process than petitioning a court to  
          reopen an entire adjudication.  The author's office adds that  
          the effect of the limitation to post-1981 decrees has severely  
          limited the applicability of this water transfer section to all  
          but a few adjudication decrees that were entered before that  

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  51-23, 5/23/13
          AYES:  Alejo, Ammiano, Atkins, Bloom, Blumenfield, Bocanegra,  



                                                                     AB 426

            Bonilla, Bonta, Bradford, Brown, Ian Calderon, Campos, Chau,  
            Chesbro, Cooley, Daly, Dickinson, Eggman, Fong, Fox, Frazier,  
            Garcia, Gatto, Gomez, Gordon, Gray, Hall, Roger Hernández,  
            Jones-Sawyer, Levine, Lowenthal, Medina, Mitchell, Mullin,  
            Muratsuchi, Nazarian, Pan, Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, Quirk,  
            Quirk-Silva, Rendon, Salas, Skinner, Stone, Ting, Weber,  
            Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, John A. Pérez
          NOES:  Achadjian, Allen, Bigelow, Buchanan, Chávez, Conway,  
            Dahle, Donnelly, Beth Gaines, Gorell, Hagman, Harkey, Linder,  
            Logue, Maienschein, Mansoor, Melendez, Morrell, Nestande,  
            Olsen, Patterson, Wagner, Wilk
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Grove, Holden, Jones, Waldron, Vacancy,  

          RM:k  8/13/13   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  NONE RECEIVED

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