State Water Board “Spiteful” Order Avoids Law, Aims to Shut Down Delta Farmers to Benefit Water Exporters

Unprecedented Demand on Senior Water Rights Holders Ignores Statute and Case Law; Intends to Allow Westlands & Kern Mega-Growers to Continue Overpumping

Stockton, CA – Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build Twin Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today added to its response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) draft order issued Wednesday night demanding water diversion data from every riparian and pre-1914 water right holder in the Delta’s Central Valley watershed, starting March 1st until, well, whenever.

“Last year, the SWRCB debated whether or not to (try to) limit senior water rights holders in the Delta under the false proposition that in-Delta use was wrongfully taking (state and federal water) project storage water,” said John Herrick, RTD Board Member and Counsel and General Manager of the South Delta Water Agency. “In response, we showed the SWRCB that the Delta always has a supply for riparian and pre-1914 right holders, as the channels are never without water. The SWRCB responded that the water in the Delta would get worse absent the releases by the projects, and thus, in-Delta diversions were wrongfully taking that released water. We responded that a diminishing quality is irrelevant to the ability to divert under the law, that the projects are obligated under statute and regulation to maintain Delta water quality for us, and that the case law on point clearly shows that if you put your water into someone else’s supply (the project’s stored water), you can only remove it if it does not harm those who could have diverted absent the added supply – us.”

“Since the exporters and the SWRCB have no factual or legal responses to the above, they developed this current order to avoid the law. By mandating un-meetable requirements, they can then order you to stop diverting until you meet those requirements, thus accomplishing the shutdown of the Delta farmers; something they could not do under the controlling facts and law,” said Herrick. “If the SWRCB had actually needed the information sought in this recent, horrible order, it would have requested it last year, and given the farmers plenty of time to find the documentation being sought. Instead, they purposefully waited until the last minute so they can be certain the farmers cannot comply in the short time given. This spiteful action by the SWRCB clearly shows it is incapable of carrying out its duties, but simply acts as the shill for the exporters. The SWRCB’s sole goal during this drought is to protect the exporters at the expense of the fisheries, and of all other water right holders; the exact opposite of their specified duties.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, February 6, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546;; Twitter: @shopcraft
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla 209/479-2053;; Twitter: @RestoretheDelta

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