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Historic Water Deal Struck

Sacramento, CA — California water officials have accepted an offer by some Delta farmers to voluntarily cut their usage and avoid possible harsher mandatory restrictions this summer.

The historic deal worked out between the State Water Resources Control Board and riparian water rights holders, or those who own property along the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, works as follows. Growers who participate in the program could either reduce their water use by 25 percent from 2013 levels, or fallow that much of their land. Water officials report those that do not participate in the plan could face curtailment later this year, but not more than the reduction would have been, without the deal.

“This proposal helps Delta growers manage the risk of potentially deeper curtailment, while ensuring significant water conservation efforts in this fourth year of drought,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. Further, she added, “It allows participating growers to share in the sacrifice that people throughout the state are facing because of the severe drought, while protecting their economic well-being, by giving them some certainty regarding exercise of the State Water Board’s enforcement discretion at the beginning of the planting season.”

Those who join the program will face spot checks by board staff during the growing season.