PME California Agricultural and Environmental Blog

Welcome to the PME LAW Blogs. In this blog, we will focus on PME California Agricultural and Environmental Blog developments, particularly within the state of California. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. PMELAW.com is a public website, so communications are not privileged. Copyright Perkins, Mann & Everett (PME LAW) © 2015. All rights reserved.

The State Water Board has Curtailed All Post-1914 Water Rights Permits, Licenses, Registrations and Certificates.

Written by Craig A Tristao

On May 1, 2015 the State Water Resources Control Board issued an immediate curtailment notice to those diverting water from the Sacramento River Watershed and Delta under a Post-1914 water right permit, license, registration or certificate.

This curtailment follows several issued in April:

The curtailment orders, while issued purportedly in accordance with state law, have issued in such a way that their purpose is to create debate about the supremacy of Pre-1914 rights.

Concurrently during April the Department of Water Resources (DWR) held listening sessions concerning the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act have yielded discussion from the public, primarily environmental activists, about groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) regulating agricultural uses of water through groundwater sustainability plans (GSPs) – either by decreasing extractions by blaming agriculture for water quality issues or setting tiered extraction fees based on the commodity grown. These ideas, unfortunately, are not being rebuffed by DWR as an appropriate exercise of power by GSAs.

The above combines to create great turmoil for agriculture: pitting farmers, ranchers and dairymen with junior rights against those who hold senior pre-1914 rights, and pitting all agricultural users against new local agencies that environmental activists will try to influence to further choke out agriculture.