Most California Farmers Ignoring Water Restrictions

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Courtesy: CBS News

CBS News – Most of the farmers and irrigation districts ordered by the state to stop pumping water from rivers and streams because of the drought are not complying.

Earlier this month, the State Water Resources Control Board said that almost 300 water rights dating back more than a century will no longer be honored, and their holders must stop taking water from the Sacramento and the San Joaquin rivers.

But board spokesman Tim Moran told CBS San Francisco only 31 percent of those notified have met the legal deadline to comply.

“I don’t know if they’re late or whether, you know, they’re just denying us or what’s going on,” said Moran. “There are monetary penalties if they continue to divert water.”

They’re not late, said Jim McCloud, board president of the Banta Carbona Irrigation District near Tracy, they’re just ignoring it.

“We’re pumping today,” said the 86-year-old walnut farmer who told CBS San Francisco his district will keep sucking water from the San Joaquin River while it fights the state order in court.

“Nobody wants to believe there’s any water there,” said McCloud. “We can get through the season, the water is there, if they manage it properly.”

McCloud and other farmers in districts who are suing say it’s unconstitutional for the state to cut off their water supply.

Moran says they will be fined $1,000 a day if they don’t stop.