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Judge Clears Way For Regulators To Enforce Water Cutbacks

Damian Dovarganes / AP
 

Damian Dovarganes / AP

A judge has denied a water district’s request for a preliminary injunction against California water regulators.

The ruling clears the way for the State Water Resources Control Board to pursue enforcement actions against districts accused of illegal water diversions.

Last month, a Sacramento County Superior Court judge told state water regulators that they couldn’t slash the rights of water districts without giving the districts a chance to defend themselves.

At issue were curtailment notices the State Water Resources Control board sent to thousands of districts asking them to stop diverting water from rivers and streams. 

But the board changed those notices to make clear that water districts have a right to challenge them.

The most recent ruling gives the water board the right not only to order cutbacks, but to pursue enforcement actions against districts accused of illegally diverting water.

Regulators have issued a cease-and-desist order against the Delta’s Westside Irrigation District, a plaintiff in the case. The district faces fines up to $10,000 a day for everyday it’s found to be illegally diverting water.