Negligent Maintenance of a Public Improvements Water Damages

In Bauer v. County of Ventura (1955) 45 Cal. 2d 276, 286 [289 P.2d 1], California court, after concluding that property owners could recover for the damage caused by floodwaters diverted onto their property by a public watercourse and drainage system, took pains to explain that application of the predecessor of section 19 did not 'subject the state to general tort liability under the theory of eminent domain. The defendants contend that the imposition of a duty to compensate for improper maintenance of a public improvement would impose liability for the act of negligently forgetting to close a sluice gate or other negligent acts committed during the routine day to day operation of the public improvement. But the raising of a ditch bank appears on its face to be a deliberate act carrying with it the purpose of fulfilling one or another of the public objects of the project as a whole. . . . the damage to property in this instance resulted not from immediate carelessness but from a failure to appreciate the probability that, functioning as deliberately conceived, the public improvement as altered and maintained would result in some damage to private property. Damage resulting from negligence in the routine operation having no relation to the function of the project as conceived is not within the scope of the rule applied in the present case." (Customer Co. v. City of Sacramento (1995), 10 Cal. 4th at pp. 381-382, italics added by Customer.)