Public Trust Doctrine Applies to Groundwater

The attached order pertaining to the Scott River recognizes that entities/counties permitting wells which are hydrologically connected to surface flows must consider the Public Trust, including impacts to surface flows in navigable rivers or impacting navigable rivers. Incidentally, it affirms that the state (SWRCB) can regulate groundwater when that groundwater is interconnected with surface flows.

This order does not address whether the wells at issue are, in fact, hydrologically connected to surface flows.


Our Sacramento judge has issued his ruling, that groundwater pumping
that affects surface flows must be regulated under the Public Trust

Read it and cheer.

This is, to quote our Vice President, a Big F’ing Deal.

It also makes any legislation even more important, that we not repose
trust only in local agencies to protect the Public Trust.