From the State Water Resources Control Board:
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced today that junior water-rights holders in the North Fork of the Eel River, the Mainstem Eel River and the Van Duzen Tributary are receiving curtailment notices. The notices advise the recipients to stop diverting water from the watershed and allow it to flow to more senior water-right holders, as required by state law.
A copy of the letter is available here.
California water rights law is based on seniority. In dry years, when there isn’t enough water in the system to serve all water-rights holders, those with more junior water rights may be required to stop diverting water from rivers and streams before restrictions are imposed on more senior water-right holders. Approximately 129 junior water-right holders in the three watersheds will receive curtailment notices.
An appropriative water right is one obtained for storing water or for the use of water on land that is not directly abutting a waterway. Under the state’s water-rights system of “first in time, first in right,” junior water-rights holders are those with permits, licenses, registrations and certificates issued after 1914 by the State Water Board and its predecessors, also referred to as “post-1914 appropriative rights.”
The State Water Board will consider requests for continuing diversions for human health and safety purposes if there is no other source of water available to a junior diverter. Anyone seeking a case-by-case consideration for health and safety needs should complete the compliance certification form and the additional health and safety form. The State Water Board will review the information submitted to support such a claim.
Water-right holders in several watersheds are developing local cooperative agreements in their respective watersheds in an effort to “share” available water and avoid curtailment. The State Water Board will consider these voluntary agreements and has advised cooperatives that the agreements must not result in injury to more senior water-right holders or unreasonably harm fish and wildlife.
Conditions in this and other watersheds continue to be monitored and curtailment notices for other watersheds may be imminent.
A Curtailment Fact Sheet provides additional details on the curtailment process.
Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste – visit SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.