Landowner Alegretti and Co. applied with the county for a permit to reactivate a well to withdraw water from the aquifer beneath its farm property. The purpose was to add 200 acres for farming.

The county approved the permit but limited Alegretti to extracting no more than 12,000 acre feet per year of water from the aquifer underlying its property.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Believing this restriction was an unfair governmental inverse taking of private-property use, Alegretti sued the county for exceeding its authority under local water-use ordinances. Alegretti argued the county had authority to approve well permits, but not to regulate the maximum annual water use.

If you were the judge would you rule Alegretti can be restricted as to the amount of annual well-water use for farming?

The judge said yes!

The county has the right to issue well-water permits and to restrict the maximum annual water use for the benefit of all landowners who share the use of the underground aquifer water, the judge began.

Such restrictions do not constitute a physical or regulatory taking of Allegretti’s property because he can still use the existing wells on other portions of his land, the judge ruled. Therefore, the county’s restriction on annual water use is not unreasonable, the judge concluded.

Based on the 2006 California Court of Appeal decision in Allegretti & Co. v. County of Imperial, 42 Cal.Rptr.3d 122.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center

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