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Water Board Considers Voluntary Water Cut From Delta Area Farmers

California Department of Water Resources

Some farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta who hold the most senior water rights may agree to a 25-percent cut in their consumption. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, the proposal comes as California water regulators consider mandatory curtailments.

Under the proposal, farmers who hold rights to divert water along a river or stream would either reduce irrigation use or leave fields fallow. In exchange, they want guarantees that regulators wouldn’t restrict remaining water. Jennifer Spaletta, an attorney for a group of farmers, says it’s a practical solution.

Spaletta: “There are literally hundreds of individual farmers who are having a very hard time this year making basic decisions and I have a fear that if you roll out a curtailment in the middle of the summer that the compliance with that curtailment will be sparse.”

It’s unclear how many farmers would agree to the cutbacks, but this could be a model for agriculture throughout California. Some water board members say they would be comfortable with such a deal. A decision could come as soon as tomorrow.