Another Bad Milestone for California's Drought

Farmers with century-old rights told to stop pumping water
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2015 4:15 PM CDT
Another Bad Milestone for California's Drought
Gino Celli inspects wheat nearing harvest on his farm near Stockton, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File)

California's drought is now hitting farmers with water rights going back more than a century. The state today told those with rights dating to 1903 to stop pumping water from rivers and streams, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Those with rights acquired later already had been ordered to cut back. The move affects rights holders in the Sacramento River watershed, the San Joaquin River watershed, and the Delta. Some farmers and ranchers have groundwater supplies that aren't affected, "but the fact that the state is reaching back more than a century in the heirarchy of California water rights highlights the withering hold" of the drought, writes the Los Angeles Times.

California had to restrict the oldest of these rights holders during a drought in the 1970s, but the New York Times says today's cuts will hit harder because the state now has more power and ability to measure water use. In Los Gatos, meanwhile, the owners of a nudist camp have been charged with stealing water, reports the AP. Authorities say the couple who run the Lupin Lodge diverted water from a creek illegally. But the pair maintains they have a right to the water, which is used in part to top off their pool for skinny-dipping. (More California stories.)

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