Calif. Drought Prompts Bout Among Regulators And Farmers

August 5, 2015


As the drought drags on and lawns grow brown across California, a battle is raging over the scope of the State Water Resources Control Board’s authority to restrict the diversion of water from rivers, lakes and streams.

On July 10, the Sacramento Superior Court handed a big win to California farmers who sued to block water use restrictions, issuing a temporary restraining order and finding that the board’s sweeping curtailment program was illegal and unenforceable. The state board is fighting back: Following the state court’s ruling, it reissued the notices with revised language and is now threatening to hit two of the water districts behind the lawsuits with huge illegal diversion fines. But the damage may be done — many diverters see the ruling as permission to head back to the pump.

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