The California state assembly says developers
must prove they have water rights before they receive final
approval for their subdivisions. State legislators have debated a
water-rights mandate for nearly a decade; it took the state's
electricity crisis (HCN, 1/29/01: Power on the loose), which raised
the specter of natural resource shortages, to push Senate Bill 221
over the top this fall.
groups have greeted the new law with
"We think it's great," says Bill
Allayaud of the Sierra Club. "It's good to see sprawling
development has to show they have the infrastructure (before
Not everyone is happy with the law.
Bob Reeb of the Association of California Water Agencies worries
that water districts will now be open to litigation from
anti-development groups. And, since the law only applies to
subdivisions with 500 units or more, he says the requirement can be
sidestepped by building smaller developments.
Sierra Club's Allayaud says this loophole is a concern, but he
argues the law is a good first step.
to see things really tightened up," he says, "but things get done
incrementally. At least we're partway
Gov. Gray Davis signed the bill into law
in early October. It will go into effect on Jan. 1.