- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - For a second consecutive week, thousands of California farms have been ordered to stop pumping river water to irrigate their crops as the state grapples with its fourth year of drought, officials said Friday.

More than 2,700 water-rights holders - mostly farms - along the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Sacramento River have been ordered to stop pumping, said Tim Moran, a spokesman for the State Water Resources Control Board. Last week, more than 1,500 farmers along other river systems in Northern California were forced to stop pumping.

Under California’s century-old system, the junior water-rights holders receiving the order must stop pumping from rivers so that those with higher priority, or senior rights, can continue to irrigate. The state has warned senior-rights holders that they may also have to stop their pumping if the drought persists.

This is the second consecutive year that junior water-rights holders have received such orders. Last year, more than 5,000 orders were issued to farms and other water users, officials said.

Gov. Jerry Brown has been criticized for leaving farmers out of tightening regulations that force communities throughout the state to cut back on their water use, Moran said.

“This is really where agriculture is asked to sacrifice,” Moran said. “This is where they suffer in the drought.”

Friday’s order includes farms and water users in 27,000 square miles.

Farmers receiving the order can still buy water, use what they’ve stored in reservoirs and pump water from the ground, which officials said comes at the risk of depleting wells in some areas. Those who violate the order may be fined up to $1,000 a day or $2,500 for each acre-foot. Violators even face prosecution in court, officials said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide