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Drought

Thousands of water rights holders could be cut off from rivers

 •  by Lois Henry
Numerous rivers feed into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The State Water Resources Control Board approved an emergency order Aug. 3 banning nearly all entities with rights to those rivers from using water this year due to drought.

California water regulators are preparing to do what they’ve been warning about for months – cut the spigot to thousands of water rights holders.

The state Water Resources Control Board will consider an emergency order at its August 3 meeting that would bar farmers, cities and others from continuing to tap into rivers that feed the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.  If approved, the order would go into effect Aug. 16. The proposed order was released Friday. Water Board staff will hold a workshop to answer questions July 27 starting at 1 p.m.

Because river curtailments of this magnitude would be an unprecedented step — something not done during California’s devastating 2012-2016 drought — the Water Board began sending a series of warning notices to rights holders in March, said Eileen Sobeck, Executive Director of the state Water Board.

“We don’t take this lightly,” she said during a conference call that included Karen Ross, California Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture, and Karla Nemeth, Director of the Department of Water Resources.

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