Who Was He?
James Ben Ali Haggin
Haggin Family - Kentucky Biography SF Genealogy
Irrigation and Water Rights
(excerpt from: UC Berkeley Water Resources Center Archives Library - Liquid Gold, California's Water)
In 1879, California's "Cattle King," Henry Miller and his partner, Charles Lux, filed for an injunction
against irrigation developer James Ben Ali Haggin. At issue was water from the Kern River in the
southern San Joaquin Valley. Miller held that his Riparian right to the river, rooted in English Common Law
and the California Constitution, prevented anyone else from taking water which he needed to grow grass
along the river to feed his livestock. Haggin countered that appropriating the water into a canal which ran
some distance from the river improved the land through irrigation.
The Riparian Doctrine comes from English Common Law and holds that the owner of a riverbank owns the
right to water flowing past the property. It does not allow water rights attached to the property to be
separated from it. The principle of Appropriation, however, provides that the first person to divert
water from a stream has the right to continue diverting as much as needed, even if the water is
transported to a location remote from the stream. The appropriator has the right to the water itself,
separate from any rights to the land adjacent to the stream from which it is taken. The conflict between
these two principles resulted in the "California Doctrine" of dual water rights, established by the State
Supreme Court in the case of Lux v. Haggin in 1886.
- State Supreme Court ruling, 1886.
- Riparian rights prevail on private lands.
- Appropriation prevails over riparian if appropriator is first user.
- Both riparian and appropriation are valid; timing of acquisition determines which prevails in event of
- Miller and Haggin build dam together.
- California Doctrine spreads to 8 western states.
Rancho del Paso - Land Grant Ownership
News of the Day - Sacramento Bee
He and his partner