Public land-land owned by the federal government, administered by the Bureau of Land Management, and still open to settlement, sale, or other disposition--constitutes a significant portion of California. Most of this land is in the California Desert where use of the land depends upon a supply of water. Groundwater is an important source of water in the desert, but the federal and state statutory and common law regulating groundwater use on public land in California are complex. This Note attempts to clarify those authorities, first discussing the federal government's right to reserve water wells for certain purposes on public land. The Note then analyzes the effect of California water law on public land. It discusses federal regulation of structures built to extract groundwater and of diversion of water across public land. The Note concludes with practical guidelines for determining groundwater rights on public land.
W. Douglas Kari,
Groundwater Rights on Public Land in California,
35 Hastings L.J. 1007
Available at: https://repository.uchastings.edu/hastings_law_journal/vol35/iss6/5