By A.J. Hazarabedian

The California Water Commission voted Wednesday to begin eminent domain proceedings, affecting 20 landowners.  According to The Record‘s article Vote clears state to seek eminent domain for drilling on delta properties,” the Commission is allowing the State Department of Water Resources to acquire permanent easements for drilling purposes from landowners in Sacramento County.

According to the State, the drilling is necessary to help choose the best route for a new tunnel which would move Sacramento River water through the delta to other counties.  While the easements are only about 16 square feet, the landowners have objected to the takings, specifically because they don’t know exactly where the drilling will take place.  The properties are mostly farmland and property owners fear it may affect their wells and irrigation lines.

The State claims the drill holes will be “about the size of a softball” and will be “filled with grout and abandoned” once their work is completed.

There are 46 landowners affected by this delta project and, as reported by The Record, only two have settled.

Eminent domain is the power of local, state or federal government agencies to take private property for “public use” so long as the government pays “just compensation.”  The government can exercise its power of eminent domain even if the owner does not wish to sell his or her property.

To learn more about eminent domain, check out our California Eminent Domain Handbook by clicking here.