California water regulators have accepted an unprecedented proposal from Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta farmers to voluntarily cut water use by 25% — or fallow a quarter of their cropland — in an effort to avoid harsher, government-imposed cuts.
The action, announced Friday, staves off the threat of potentially lengthy litigation between growers and the State Water Resources Control Board. It applies only to so-called riparian rights holders — land owners whose property has direct access to a stream.
The right of these growers to divert water directly from a stream dates back more than 100 years and has never before been challenged. However, after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered mandatory cuts in urban water consumption, regulators have begun eyeing agricultural use as well.
The plan is voluntary. Individual growers must submit a plan to the water board by June 1.
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