Water & Drought

California lifts restrictions on senior water rights

California water regulators on Tuesday lifted restrictions for the holders of hundreds of senior water rights who were ordered to stop pumping this summer.

With the harvest largely over, the State Water Resources Control Board said there’s enough water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin watersheds so that holders of senior water rights could once more divert water from rivers and streams.

Last June, in response to the state’s four-year drought, regulators curtailed senior rights for the first time since 1977. Generally speaking, senior rights holders established a claim before California created its formal water rights system in 1914.

State officials say they’ll continue monitoring weather forecasts and stream levels to determine whether the restrictions will be lifted for junior water rights holders.

Ryan Sabalow: 916-321-1264, @ryansabalow