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Courting the idea of water courts in California: Whither a Eureka moment?

“Water courts: Are they right for California?” A distinguished panel gathered at the University of California, Davis on January 26, 2013 to entertain this question as part of the 2013 California Water Law Symposium (“Symposium”). This panel aptly fit the theme overarching the Symposium: “Beyond the water wars: collaborative management solutions for a shared resource,” as it contemplated the potential benefits and drawbacks of California adopting a management solution like Colorado’s specialized water courts. Californian policymakers’ and legal practitioners’ contemplation of courting the idea of water courts matters at a deeper level for it suggests perhaps the status quo needs fundamental improvement. The panel’s discussion implicates the broader issue of how we ought to structure our judicial institutions to better serve the needs of citizens relying on courts to resolve water resource disputes. This article presents some of the diverse issues examined by the panel in their discussion, and offers suggestions to help California move further along in that quest.
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