Does the state have to pay compensation to a farmer who loses access to his land due to flooding?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from Beckley v. Reclamation Bd. of State, 205 Cal.App.2d 734, 23 Cal.Rptr. 428 (Cal. App. 1962):

On the other hand, the rule is settled that where the state either creates or increases a servitude over lands for the public benefit, it must, unless it acts properly within the limits of its police power, pay compensation. Podesta v. Linden Irrigation District, 141 Cal.App.2d 38, 296 P.2d 401, was not a flooding case. It was, however, a case where an irrigation district, after having reconstructed the channel of a stream to allow more summer flow to pass by, separating plaintiff's lands, built bridges thereover to provide plaintiff with access [205 Cal.App.2d 748] between his two parcells. The district's works were then discontinued, the stream flow reverted as before, and the bridges became dilapidated. Thereafter a successor of the original district restored the augmented stream flow but did not provide new bridges. It was held by this court (per Van Dyke, P. J.,) that the original alteration of the stream could rightfully have been done by the irrigation district only in one of two ways--either by condemning the right or by agreement with plaintiffs; that it had elected the second course and was thus limited by the condition imposed by the contract, namely, the maintenance of the bridges.

And the court states, on pages 49-50, 296 P.2d on page 408, that after disuse of the channel:

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