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Water Law: The California System

While most of the states in the country choose between the water law doctrines of prior appropriation and riparian rights, California applies both. This approach to state water law is called, appropriately, the California system.

This lesson gives a brief overview of the California system of water rights. California was the first state to attempt to blend prior appropriation and riparian rights. However, its example can be considered instructive for the modern evolution of water law, because more and more states are trying to blend the best parts of both systems.

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