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Water Cuts Looming For Oldest Water Rights Holders

Sacramento, CA — Water curtailment orders will go out on Friday to some of those holding water rights dating back to the Gold Rush era, according to state water officials.

Regulators are ordering farmers with California’s oldest water rights to stop pumping from the San Joaquin River watershed for the first time in recorded history. A state water board engineer told a public drought hearing that the curtailment orders will be mailed to senior rights holders on Friday.

Meanwhile, as reported yesterday, some other farmers along the Delta have offered to reduce their water use by a 25 percent or not plant some crops to try to avoid a pumping halt order. A final decision on the proposal is expect by state water officials on Friday as well.

However, regulating whether farmers are meeting the restrictions could be hard to enforce, as regulators do not have widespread remote sensors or meters to make sure water is not diverted.