September 2018

New Issue Brief
When is Groundwater Recharge a Beneficial Use of Surface Water in California?  

Currently, there is uncertainty about whether the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) will consider groundwater recharge to be a beneficial use of surface water, one of the requirements for securing a new water right in California. This uncertainty creates perceived barriers to recharge projects that will be essential for sustainably managing groundwater around the state.
Our UC Water Issue Brief examines the law that guides beneficial use determinations for surface water rights, analyzes how it applies in the context of groundwater recharge, and provides recommendations for clarifying current policy to encourage appropriate groundwater recharge projects.
California law makes clear that the act of recharging groundwater, alone, is not a beneficial use of water. Instead, we find that the specific purpose of the recharge is key.
We argue that there are important distinctions between (1) recharge for the purpose of storing water to be subsequently extracted for above-ground use under the water right and (2) recharge without the intention to extract the water via pumping under the water right. In the first case, it is well established that a party wishing to store water underground for later extractive use must identify how the water will be put to beneficial use once extracted. In the second case, because recharge for non-extractive uses is not explicitly listed as beneficial in state statutes or regulations, the SWRCB will make determinations on a case-by-case basis. 
To reduce the uncertainty associated with case-by-case beneficial use determinations, we recommend that the SWRCB produce guidance that clarifies that recharge is a beneficial use of surface water when it is done for a non-extractive purpose that provides broad public benefits.
Access  the Issue Brief here  or contact Kathleen Miller for more information .
Faculty + Staff
In the News
Ethan Elkind discusses Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of a bill aiming at 100% zero-carbon energy for the state's electricity sector by 2045 on KTVU. And on KALW, Ethan discusses the milestone targets with state climate leaders, including the bill's author, California State Senator Kevin de León. 
Prof. Dan Farber's recent research on federal disaster response to Hurricane Maria is referenced in Pacific Standard's " Trump Says the East Coast is 'Absolutely Prepared' for Hurricane Florence. Is That True?
In Tuesday's San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, " Insurance Needs Reform in California's Changing Climate," CLEE Research Fellow Ted Lamm, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and LBNL's Dr. Evan Mills discuss the critical intersection of climate, insurance, and California's future. 
New Summary Report

Transitioning freight transportation to zero- emission technologies, such as battery electric and hydrogen fuel cells, would yield substantial environmental, equity, and public health benefits. However, various regulatory technological, and financial barriers hinder the achievement of these goals. 

To address the challenges and policy solutions to achieve zero-emission freight at the Southern California ports, UCLA Law's Emmett Institute on Climate and Environment and CLEE hosted a conference at UCLA on June 8, 2018, Toward Zero-Emission Freight at Southern California's Ports. Our new summary report decribes the top challenges and solutions that speakers there raised. 

See the Summary Report, view the Conference Program, or contact Ethan Elkind for more information.

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