Environment & Science

California drought: Many farmers miss deadline to report water cuts

Blue oak trees up to 500 years old thrive in California's drought-scorched foothills. Their rings provide a unique record of drought and wetness for the Golden State
Blue oak trees up to 500 years old thrive in California's drought-scorched foothills. Their rings provide a unique record of drought and wetness for the Golden State
Courtesy of Daniel Griffin

A majority of farmers and others holding some of California's strongest claims to water have missed a deadline to confirm they stopped pumping from rivers and streams, state officials said Monday.

Data show less than a third of those affected by California's broadest cut on record for nearly ironclad water rights responded to the order by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Farmers, cities, water districts and others holding nearly 300 prized claims to water from California's Sacramento, San Joaquin and delta watersheds were ordered to stop pumping from those waterways.

Several irrigation districts serving farmers are challenging the board's order in court. Some of the streams to which they hold rights have dried out.

Water rights enforcement manager Kathy Mrowka said the agency is still reviewing the data. The penalty for illegally taking water is $1,000 a day.