The move by the State Water Resources Control Board means more than 25-hundred junior water rights holders will no longer be able to use water from the Sacramento River watershed. The watershed includes many creeks and rivers that drain into the Sacramento River and the North Delta. Water rights laws are seniority based in California. When there is not enough water in the river system, state law requires junior water-rights holders to stop diverting.
David Guy is President of the Northern California Water Association.
"It's obviously going to be very rough, farms are going to be left fallow, there's going to be less habitat for birds, obviously there's less water for fish in a year like this, I think that's the real challenge of managing water during a dry period," Guy says.
Tom Howard, Executive Director of the state water board says some junior water-rights holders have other options.
“Some people have access to groundwater, others have contracts for stored water supplies from either the Central Valley project, the State Water Project or in some cases local storage projects, and some will be in critical straights.”