As the 2015 water year begins, the State Water Resources Control Board announced today that curtailed water right holders in the Sacramento, San Joaquin, Russian and Eel river watersheds will be able to take advantage of significant early precipitation events on a limited basis.
Early storm events, which may not provide enough precipitation to permanently lift curtailments in these watersheds, do offer important opportunities to capture needed rainwater. , Under revised curtailment criteria, water right holders that have been unable to divert or store water in these watersheds since curtailments went into effect, can do so on a temporary basis when storm events occur. Water right holders will be notified in real-time of these temporary relaxations of curtailments.
California water rights law, which is based on seniority, requires that more junior water right holders (those with more recent water rights) stop their diversions if there is not enough water in our rivers and streams to meet all of the demand. In this extraordinary drought year, more than 9,000 water right holders in the four watersheds saw their rights curtailed beginning last June when supplies were reaching historic low levels.
Water right holders that received curtailment notices or orders from the State Water Board are strongly advised to sign up for email notification of information. Weather patterns are dynamic and the only way to provide this type of temporary relief is to pair it with real-time notification. Notification of any temporary relaxation of curtailments, as well as the reinstatement of curtailments following a storm event, will only be provided through email and posting on the State Water Board’s website. Of course, any diversions made must meet the conditions of the affected water rights.
To make sure that these temporary measures are effective and are not resulting in harm to more senior water rights, reporting of amounts of water diverted under these special circumstances will be required. Water right holders that do not report these amounts will not be able to participate in future opportunities to collect water while curtailments are still in effect.