It’s official: California farmers volunteer to give up water


California’s drought has touched everyone in the state. First the government eliminated irrigation water deliveries through much of the public canal system. Then the governor told cities and industry to cut back water use by 25 percent. Now the state is taking a step it hasn’t resorted to since 1977: It’s claiming water from people with old riparian water rights. These are people who have been drawing water from rivers since the Gold Rush era, and who are generally immune to cuts. But in the most severe shortages, the state can order them to stop pumping.

When Gov. Jerry Brown ordered cities to conserve water, many people were disappointed that he did not set a similar mandate for ag. Of course, the state had already turned off the tap for many farmers. And now it’s making further cuts, going after senior water-rights holders this time. To protect some of this water, farmers in the…

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