The report from the Public Policy Institute of California says the state's system for allocating water is fragmented, inconsistent and lacks transparency. It says the problems keep the state from adequately managing water in a drought.
The study finds the state has inadequate authority and information to manage water shortages. The State Water Resources Control Board oversees how farmers, irrigation districts and other right-holders divert water. The report finds the board is still not measuring water diversion in much of the state and self-reporting is incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.
The study says the state lacks a clear policy that takes into account public health and safety or the environment when ordering water cuts. Complex rules also hinder water transfers. The report suggests streamlining water rights and dedicating water for environmental uses for each river and stream system.