Monday, March 10, 2014

Agency could strip away water rights

Historic water development in California is filled with stories of intrigue, theft, gunfights and dynamite blowing up small dams. The Kings River experienced some of the most violent acts associated with water rights and irrigation supplies as early farmers fought one another for access to the one thing needed to make the Valley bloom: water.

While no one is advocating any form of violence, emergency regulations announced by the California State Water Resources Control Board could strip water rights away from farmers and water districts that date back to the 1800s. The proposed amendments could result in the only water exported from the Delta being designated for public “health and safety” purposes for next year. People are still trying to figure out what the Board means by “health and safety” but to be sure, it likely isn't irrigation water for farms. While proclaiming their intent, the State Board would sidestep existing water rights in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys. Some of these water rights date back to the late 1870s. Here’s hoping that the State Board recognizes the dire implications to farms and rural communities if this progresses further, and backs off of its proposal.

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