Water is a precious resource in drought- stricken California. And state regulators are cracking down on those who keeping taking water after the state has told them to stop.
The State Water Resources Control Board has issued nearly 8,000 curtailment orders to water rights holders, telling them they can no longer collect water. But only 31 percent have complied with the orders so far.
Now, new emergency regulations just adopted by the board have streamlined the process for fining rights holders who don’t comply. Board Chair Felicia Marcus acknowledges the rules are tough on users known as “junior” rights holders, who acquired their rights after 1914.
“But our task is to try to figure out how to implement the state’s water law with its seniority based system and its rules about fairness," she says, "and to make sure people get water to which they are entitled and that they leave water to which they are not entitled.”
Marcus says the regulations allow for rights holders to appeal curtailment orders. She says the state has not implemented curtailments this extensive since the 1970’s.