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Probe sought into possible water diversion

By
August 20, 2014 |

SACRAMENTO — State and federal water agencies are seeking an investigation into whether some California farmers are taking water released from upstream dams intended for consumers in other regions of the state.

The California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are calling on the state board that oversees water rights to investigate possible water diversion by farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, The Sacramento Bee reported (http://bit.ly/1ridVSk ) Monday. The water contention comes amid the state’s drought.

Nancy Vogel, a DWR spokeswoman, said a shortage may indicate that water is being taken unlawfully.

“We recognize that we’re suffering losses of storage,” she said. “But we don’t have the data to determine precisely where.”

In a July 23 letter, the two powerful water agencies asked the State Water Resources Control Board to use new emergency powers granted by drought legislation passed earlier this year.

Delta landowners denied the allegations. Stockton attorney Donta Nomellini Sr., who represents the Central California Delta Water Agency, said the two government agencies want to appease communities and farmers as far south as San Diego that buy their water.

In addition to exporting water, the two agencies are required to release enough water into the Delta to keep out ocean saltwater and protect the estuary.

Many Delta farmers have water rights dating back a century or longer, allowing them to use as much water that naturally flows. At question is whether farmers are taking more than the natural flow, including water the two agencies held in their reservoirs.

Meanwhile, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, a group allied with Delta landowners, has countered by filing a formal complaint alleging that DWR and Reclamation are illegally diverting water from rivers that flow into the Delta.

The alliances’ executive director, Bill Jennings, said the two agencies have opened a “Pandora’s box” by requesting the investigation. “The water board needs to begin to unravel this.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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Discussion | 5 comments

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  • BobAugust 19, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Natural flow, well don't worry, these guys won't take much in a couple of years because there won't be a natural flow It will be going down twin pipes to LaLa land

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JimboAugust 19, 2014 - 11:29 am

    Who in their right mind would ever trust a self righteous over entitled conservative to not just steal what they feel they have a 'right' to at everyone else's expense? Be sure to fully expect them to try playing the victim for being caught as well. Same old lather-rinse-repeat.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 19, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Welcome to the arcane world of California water rights. As we continue to put more demands on the system with no end in sight, all the failings if the system will become more and more apparent with each drought.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rick WoodAugust 19, 2014 - 1:55 pm

    *of the system

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • LetThemDrinkDirtAugust 19, 2014 - 4:21 pm

    If it is proven that some Northern or Central California farmers diverted some water for their fields then they should be given a medal and a cash reward and encouraged to take all they need in the future. No sense sending our water the the south, they will just use it to wash the cars and full the swimming pools of the recent illegal invaders to the state.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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