Date of Right
California Civil Code of 1873
Effective January 1, 1873, water appropriators were given the option under California Civ. Code Sections 1410-1422 to file their water claims with the county recorder to preserve priority. Such filing officially dated the water right as of the filing date. If no filing was made, the water right was still valid, but dated back to the time the first substantial steps were taken to put the water to beneficial use. These options remained in effect in California until 1914.
In Wells v. Mantes, 99 Calif 583, 584, 34 Pac. 324, (1893), the court ruled that an appropriation completed without complying with the provisions of the Civil Code had priority over one initiated pursuant to the Civil Code, but after the completion of the nonstatutory appropriation.
In Duckworth v. Watsonville Water & Light Co., (170 Calif. 425, 432, 150 Pac. 58, (1915), the court stated:
"It has long been settled in this state that an appropriation under the [civil] code divests no existing private right, that its effect is merely to give preference over a subsequent appropriator or diverter who takes under no other right, or title, and to fix the date of the posting of the notice as the inception of the claim under it."
In Haight v. Costanich, 184 Calif. 426, 431, 433-434, 194 Pac 26; (1920,) on the question as to whether the Civil Code destroyed the doctrine of relation back for nonstatutory appropriators, the court stated:
"But the code section by its terms destroys the right of relation back of an appropriator who does not comply with the code, only as to a subsequent appropriator who does. As to all others, his rights are not affected by the code provisions and are to be determined by the law governing the subject of appropriations as it exists independently of the code."