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During the 2012–2016 California drought some irrigators received little or no water at all in consecutive years while others received comparatively large allocations. This paper focuses on the role that California’s water rights priority system and its administration via Central Valley Project contracts have played in generating disproportionate water allocations and impacts during the drought.
After decades of dysfunction that have exacerbated chronic water problems, California is on the cusp of a new era due to historic groundwater legislation. However, meeting the law’s goals will require overcoming stubborn systemic obstacles, according to a report by researchers at Stanford’s Water in the West program and the Gould Center for Conflict Resolution at the Stanford Law School.