Why New California Drought Regulations Have Caused an Uproar
Mar 1, 2018 at 1:00pm
Dozens of local water agencies are opposing state regulations to ban wasteful water practices, partly due to issues relating to the water board’s authority.
On February 20, California’s State Water Resources Control Board postponed a decision on the adoption of new statewide regulations meant to curb wasteful water practices. The regulations would make permanent some rules California enacted temporarily during the recent drought, which ended last year.
After several public comment periods this winter, water board staff tweaked the regulations to address concerns and recommendations from water users and other groups, but the postponement came after a large number of water agencies claimed the regulations are a violation of water rights.
“We believe using waste and unreasonable use as the tool to reach these conservation objectives is problematic and inconsistent with the law,” read a comment letter to the board signed by dozens of water agencies. “The regulation is defective because it has the effect – if not the purpose – of diminishing water rights by legislative means, without any process whatsoever.”
But the issue also appears to go beyond the fight over this set of regulations and centers on the water board’s authority and a disagreement over state versus local control of water policy.
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