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California orders ban on pumping river water in Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley

Map of the San Joaquin River course detailing the watershed in San Joaquin Valley, California.

Cities and growers from Fresno all the way up to the Oregon state line have been ordered to stop pumping from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed.

The State Water Resources Control Board Wednesday announced cutbacks that will affect 45-hundred water rights in the Delta watershed. CalMatters reports this includes 400 or more held by 212 public water systems beginning this week.

But how does the California water rights system work? It’s all on the basis of seniority — those with the oldest claims are typically the last to be cut back. But even those with rights to the San Joaquin watershed, which date back to 1900 – before California water rights laws were enacted – are expected to be hit with the curtailment orders.

Last August, the Water Resources Control Board issued a similar order.

The pain for growers will vary, depending on their access to other water supplies, such as wells.

Deeper cutbacks could come as the summer continues.

Sebastian Miño-Bucheli is a multimedia journalist / producer at KALW Summer Training 2022 program. He's originally from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, but he's been loving his past 4 years here in the Bay Area. Sebastian is an Ecuadorian-American on track to write stories for the Latinx community.