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Historic move: Fresno River rights to be decided

 •  by Lois Henry
The Fresno River is a "flashy" river whose watershed covers 230 square miles. It runs 68 miles from Fish Camp to Dos Palos where it meets the San Joaquin River.

If all you’ve ever seen of the Fresno River is through Madera as you drive over it on Highway 99, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a weed-infested, shopping cart collector rather than a real river.

But there’s a lot to this unobtrusive waterway, which just made history as the first river in 40 years about to go through a rights settlement under the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Fresno has it all — allegations of self-dealing, accusations of outright theft, inflated rights, hoarding and other alleged skullduggery — all on a stubby, 53-mile stretch of the river.

It will certainly keep Water Board staff busy sorting out its tangle of rights, claims and counter claims.

The last adjudication by the Water Board was on the San Gregorio Creek in San Mateo County and took more than 13 years to complete from 1979 to 1993.

“Our intent is to do this one much more quickly,” said Conny Mitterhofer, a supervising engineer with the Water Board.

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