Senior water rights users not safe from cutbacks

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Some Valley farmers expected to face more water cutbacks because of the worsening drought. (KFSN)

Some Valley farmers expected to face more water cutbacks because of the worsening drought. The State Water Resources Control Board was expected to soon issue "curtailment orders" to senior water rights holders.

Moving irrigation water south from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta has long been the challenge. Senior rights holders included districts whose historical rights precede 1914.

Friant Water Authority assistant general manager Mario Santoyo was disappointed but not surprised the board was looking to reduce deliveries to senior rights holders.

Santoyo said, "You cut back the cities by 25%. It's hard to take much more water away for the farmers when they get zero. The only major user of water in California is the environment and they've not been touched."

The Exchange Contractors Water Authority on the Valley's west side served as the area's oldest water rights holder. The authority has long been part of the Central California Irrigation District.

General manager Chris White said, "To my knowledge this will be the first time ever the pre-1914's have been curtailed in this fashion."

White explained the exchange contractors would not be impacted by any water cutbacks imposed by the state. "But it does not affect delivery of previously stored water like water that was stored in reservoirs earlier in the year."

The district has water already stored in places like San Luis Reservoir and Shasta Dam to the north. But it remained a worrisome situation because any curtailments of water deliveries can impact supplies at both Friant Dam and Pine Flat Dam.



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california waterwaterdroughtpolitics
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