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California judge halts state attempt to impose water cutbacks

A California judge says the State Water Resources Control Board cannot impose water reductions on local water agencies. The state will unquestionably try to route around this temporary restraining order by re-writing their curtailment orders. The State of California may pretend this isn’t a big deal, however it is, as it directly blocks state regulators from mandating water cutbacks. It also highlights just how insanely convoluted and dysfunctional the antiquated spaghetti mess known as California water law is. California is attempting to deal with a major drought using water laws that should have been re-written decades ago.

A Sacramento judge has thrown a wrench into the California State Water Resources Control Board’s efforts to impose water cutbacks on several of the state’s senior water rights holders. In a July 10th order, Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the Water Board’s administrative process, designed to implement drought-based water reductions, violates the due process rights of several water and irrigation districts to whom the Board issued cutback orders. Judge Chang issued a temporary restraining order barring the Board from enforcing its administrative directives.

We don’t need no stinking judge telling us what to do.

State officials dismissed the ruling as inconsequential.

Water board attorney David Rose said the curtailment letters may be problematic and need revision. But he said Chang’s finding doesn’t change the fundamental fact that the board can — and will — crack down on those who take water illegally.

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