For adjudicated or decreed water rights, the place of use is usually defined in maps created for an engineering report. The State Superior Court (Court) in the particular County of the court case often uses these maps, making a few changes by text when the decree is finally issued.
In the South Cow Creek Decree (Decree), formally known as Shasta County State Superior Court Case Number 38577, the maps were created by a prior engineering report. This 1968 decree defined all water rights for South Cow Creek, Old Cow Creek, and their tributaries. Maps show owners at the time the initial report was written, Sections divided up into 1/4 1/4 Sections (~40 acres each), points of diversion, irrigated lands, and other features.
The clip above is from Decree Sheet 5, which is centered on the SW 1/4 of Section 13, Township 31 North, Range 3 W. In the short hand of the Decree, it is the SW 1/4 (Section) 13 T31N R3W. These were the irrigated lands of Jura Lawrence Hall.
The Place Of Use is shown in Schedule 1 of the decree, excerpted above. Each piece of the irrigated acreage is listed. Some are footnoted is being “dormant riparian land”, not irrigated at that time.
The excerpt above, from Decree Schedule 2 shows the points of diversion for Hall, Numbers 78 and 79. These diversions are shown as circled numbers with arrows on the map above. In Schedule 2, the points of diversion are listed as being so many feet at some angle, distant from a Section Corner or other point.
So, the place of use and point of diversion can still be located on the ground today, with an error that might be as little as 20 feet, or as great as 300 feet (sometimes more than that. This is enough to define where the court order, the Decree, allows water to be diverted and applied on the land that originally belonged to Jura Lawrence Hall.
The following excerpt from Schedule 6 shows the water rights for Hall. There are first priority, second priority, and fourth priority rights. Where exactly do these rights go, and what are they for? That’s a story for a future post, more likely several posts.
In this world, it seems that the only constant is change, and that goes for land ownership, too. The aerial photo below shows ownership lines on Hall’s lands today. Notice that there are 10 parcels, most with some portion of the decreed water right:
How are the water rights divided up? Who gets some, and how much? That falls under the heading of apportioning water rights, also a story for a later post.
It is interesting, isn’t it? Now we start to see why there is some confusion about water rights, and who has them, and how they can demonstrate that. As you might guess, there have been lawsuits since the original 1968 Decree to define the rights better.