State Water Board Orders Large-Scale Water Restrictions For San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta

August 4, 2021 14:00 pm · 12 comments

by Kiley Russell – Thousands of water rights holders, including farms and municipalities, that draw water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta could lose access to their supplies under new emergency drought measures approved by the State Water Resources Control Board this week.

The Water Board voted unanimously Tuesday for the “emergency curtailment regulation” in order to protect drinking water supplies, prevent sea water from pushing into the Delta and to minimize the drought’s impacts on fish stocks and the environment, according to Water Board officials.

If approved by the state’s Office of Administrative Law, the measures could go into effect by as early as this month and would require roughly 5,700 of the Delta watershed’s 6,600 water rights holders to stop drawing water.

People who hold water rights that were acquired prior to 1914 — the so-called senior water rights holders — and those with riparian water rights — those who own property that physically touches a body of water — would not be required to curtail their supplies under the emergency measure.

“It is imperative that we move urgently to better manage the water we still have and prepare for the continuation of drought conditions,” said Water Board chairman E. Joaquin Esquivel.

The curtailments are intended to maintain water supplies primarily in three key upstream reservoirs — Shasta, Folsom and Oroville — that are well below historical averages for this time of year.

As of July 25, Shasta was at 32 percent of capacity, which is 45 percent of its historical average, while both Folsom and Oroville were at 25 percent of capacity — just 35 percent of historical averages, according to data from the Department of Water Resources.

The three reservoirs are critical components of the water storage and delivery system used for keeping the Delta free of sea water, providing water for farms, fish, wildlife and hydro-electric power, and for delivering municipal water supplies to roughly two-thirds of the state’s population, including the Bay Area, Sacramento and Southern California.

“With the extremely low inflow to our reservoirs, we are running out of reservoir storage and other tools to meet all the competing demands,” said Ernest Conant, regional director for the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the federal Central Valley Project.

The Water Board also issued curtailment orders for 861 water rights holders in the Upper Russian River watershed on Monday and announced that 222 rights holders in the Lower Russian River watershed are likely to see such an order by as early as next week.

“(Lake Mendocino) is declining much faster than anticipated,” said Erik Ekdahl, deputy director for the Division of Water Rights.

Without restricting the amount of water drawn from the watershed, Lake Mendocino could be entirely empty by the end of the year, Ekdahl said.

Currently, almost 90 percent of the state is enduring extreme, climate change-driven drought conditions, according to the National Weather Service, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a drought emergency for 50 of California’s 58 counties.

In July, Newsom asked all Californians to voluntarily cut water usage by 15 percent.

Exit 12A August 4, 2021 at 10:32 PM

…Here comes another tax and/or bond measure.

Jeff (the other one) August 5, 2021 at 7:22 AM

“Governor Newsom Announces $5.1 Billion Package for Water Infrastructure and Drought Response as Part of $100 Billion California Comeback Plan” to include $1.3 billion for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, with a focus on small and disadvantaged communities, $500 million for multi-benefit land repurposing to provide long-term, flexible support for water users, $200 million for habitat restoration to support tidal wetland, floodplain, and multi-benefit flood-risk reduction projects, etc.

It all sounds good, albeit very costly, but I expect little to none of the plans in this bill to be accomplished, yet all the money to be passed around, along with, as you stated, another bond measure (since the 40 billion plus in tax payer money gifted to CA by the last COVID redistribution package needs to go to other friends of Sacramento.

chuckie the troll August 5, 2021 at 2:50 PM


I got this one from Governing Magazine. BOHICA: Bend over here it comes again.

Could be the new state motto.

Anonymous August 5, 2021 at 12:09 AM

Over 80% of California’s water goes to agriculture and industry. The people should not be required to cut water usage at all.

ConcordMike August 5, 2021 at 12:17 AM

Desalination of sea water now for agriculture and wildfires! Come on. What’s it take to get this running?

Cellophane August 5, 2021 at 7:31 AM

The only reason why desalination plants haven’t been built is that the people in power haven’t been paid enough to get the project started.

Much like any other communistic state, work only gets done when a lot of money changes hands.

Anonymous August 5, 2021 at 6:45 PM

What it will take is a massive increase in our power grid. Traditional nuclear or hundreds of thorium reactors distributed throughout the state.

This will never happen, thus desalination will never happen.

LL Cool J August 5, 2021 at 5:00 AM

And don’t forget that Newsom allowed the reservoirs, which were filled to the hilt, to be emptied to save a fish. They value animals over people. Animals are important but you have 40 million people in California and they emptied the reservoirs. Really think about that. Try critical thinking.

Cellophane August 5, 2021 at 7:29 AM

It’s the government’s job to provide needed services to the people.

The government has failed to do so with every needed service.

While making little or no improvements to infrastructure the government restricts service to the people it’s supposed to support and serve.

The nut job environmentalists hold sway over the government depriving the people of the needed water to feed us all and keep us healthy.

While we all pay ever-increasing taxes and fees for services we see little or no improvement to those services.

Yet so many people bow to the government instead of taking it to task for it’s multiple failures.

WC---Creeker August 5, 2021 at 8:01 AM

Newsom’s idea of leadership… please cut usage by 15%, Real leaders would have ideas of increasing reservoir capacity, supplementation of supply with desalination technology and water recycling. Newsom is not a leader.

chuckie the troll August 5, 2021 at 8:54 AM

Well, that’s one way to finish off the California farming industry. Can you imagine what a head of lettuce is going to cost?

California has doubled its population since the last major water project was completed in 1960. This is a Democrat Created Disaster.

Justifiable languor August 5, 2021 at 9:10 AM

Newsom emptied our reservoirs. Yes on recall!

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