Skip to content


News Posted on January 31, 2013

King Hall Hosts Successful 2013 California Water Law Symposium

UC Davis School of Law hosted the ninth-annual California Water Law Symposium on January 26.  The event, entitled "Beyond the Water Wars: Collaborative Management Solutions for a Shared Resource," drew more than 300 people to King Hall and the UC Davis Conference Center for a series of panels and presentations challenging the "water wars" narrative that has pervaded the media coverage of water issues in California and seeking opportunities for collaboration on possible solutions. The event drew coverage from media including the Davis Enterprise.

The symposium, which was co-chaired by Kathryn Bilder '14, Lynn Kirshbaum '13, Madeleine Weisz '14, and Steve Westhoff '13, included welcoming remarks from Dean Kevin R. Johnson and a keynote address from California Congressman John Garamendi.  Throughout the day, panel discussions and presentations featured a wide range of experts speaking on water issues including protection of endangered salmon populations, groundwater overdraft, nitrates in drinking water, the use of specialized "water courts" to resolve conflicts, and other pressing concerns.  In addition, Professor of Environmental Practice and Director of the California Environmental Law and Policy Center Richard Frank and Professor Emeritus Harrison "Hap" Dunning took part in a presentation on "Applying Today's Environmental Values to Yesterday's Water Projects."

In his welcoming remarks, Dean Johnson noted King Hall's long history of leadership with regard to California water law scholarship, which includes a 1981 UC Davis Law Review symposium that helped to establish the public trust doctrine in environmental law and influenced the California Supreme Court's historic decision in National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, which saved Mono Lake.  In 2011, the Law Review hosted another symposium revisiting the public trust doctrine, and the Law School launched the California Environmental Law and Policy Center, which has hosted major environmental law events including "CEQA at 40," a symposium on the fortieth anniversary of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Dean Johnson also introduced Congressman Garamendi, whose keynote speech focused on Governor Jerry Brown's recent announcement of a proposal to build two tunnels to transport water south through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  "That's not a water plan, that's a plumbing system - and a very, very bad one," Garamendi said of the $14 billion proposal, suggesting that improved recycling, conservation, and storage facilities could address the state's water problems without endangering the delta ecology.  Garamendi said he plans to introduce legislation to support a comprehensive water plan similar to the one put forth by the National Resources Defense Council. 

California Water Law Symposium

Davis Enterprise