in the KNOW

July 3, 2014

State Water Board Votes to Increase Enforcement Powers

The State Water Resources Control Board yesterday adopted an emergency regulation giving the Board stronger enforcement power regarding compliance with water rights curtailment orders in California. The regulation was approved to protect senior water rights holders in the state.

Board Chair Felicia Marcus, said, “This emergency regulation provides certainty to our existing water rights system, and allows the Board to move quickly to assure that the senior water rights holders have the water they need as this very dry summer progresses.”

Under the order, junior water rights holders must “immediately stop taking water upon receipt of a curtailment order reflecting the fact that water is not available under that diverter’s priority of right, so that water remains for those with more senior water rights.”

The action allows the Board to issue an enforceable curtailment order instead of a curtailment notice. The Board states that only 31 percent of nearly 8,000 curtailment notices are currently being followed and the new regulation ensures immediate compliance.

Though we are pleased the Board’s decision protects senior water rights, we are concerned that the unprecedented action by the board skirts due process by allowing only a limited opportunity to defend against a curtailment order. Previously, quasi-judicial hearings would be held prior to enforcement action. Now, under the emergency regulation, a hearing can be requested while the enforcement action moves forward.

The emergency regulation is expected to be implemented on July 14 and will be in effect for 270 days. The regulation includes language stating the Board will “engage stakeholders over the next six months to gather input on how to most effectively implement and enforce the water rights priority system in future dry years” and recommendations will be made to the Board by January 31, 2015. Ag Council will participate in this process and will keep our members informed of this issue.

Olsen Chosen as Next Assembly GOP Leader

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto)

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto)

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) was unanimously elected to be the next Assembly Republican Leader by the Assembly Republican Caucus on Tuesday. Olsen will serve as Leader-Elect during a transition period with the current Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare), and Olsen officially takes the reigns this November.

Olsen told the Turlock City News, “I am honored by my colleagues’ confidence in my ability to lead our Caucus, and I look forward to partnering with Connie [Conway] over the next few months to advance our policy and political goals while offering a smooth transition plan that will maximize our success in the 2014 elections and into the next legislative session.”

Ag Council appreciates Olsen’s strong understanding of the issues facing agriculture and her willingness to connect with our members on a regular basis. We look forward to working with Olsen in her new leadership role.

Next Newsletter

With the Legislature on a month-long summer recess, the next In the Know newsletter will be sent to Ag Council members in early August when the Legislature returns. We will be sure to keep our members apprised of any pertinent activities in the meantime.

In case you missed it, please click HERE for an overview of Ag Council’s recent successful Legislative Day.