California curtails some senior water rights due to drought

Los Angeles | Reuters — California’s water board curtailed senior water rights on Friday in the state’s Delta, San Joaquin and Sacramento regions due to drought, in the first move of its kind during the current drought, officials said.

The curtailment affects more than 100 senior water rights holders, with most of those located near the Sacramento River, the State Water Resources Control Board said in a statement.

This marks the first time since the late 1970s that California has curtailed water diversions to senior water rights holders in the state.

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The order will impose curtailments on the use of water by these rights holders for irrigation and provision of livestock, the board statement said.

The order for the Delta, San Joaquin and Sacramento regions is aimed at water users with rights dating to 1903 or later, while those with rights before that date can continue to operate without restrictions, the board statement said.

California is in its fourth year of a devastating drought that has also prompted Governor Jerry Brown to impose the state’s first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use, up to 36 per cent in some communities.

Reporting for Reuters by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles.

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