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Curtailment won’t impact stored SSJID water

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POSTED April 26, 2014 12:21 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

In response to “Water War on Horizon” (Manteca Bulletin, April 23), and “SSJID leery of state’s intentions” (April 24), I appreciate The Manteca Bulletin’s continued interest in this very important issue. Curtailment of water rights is thankfully a rare occurrence, and there are a lot of misconceptions about it. 

To add to and clarify some points covered in the articles: 

• The State Water Board’s curtailment process does not affect water held in storage for South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) at New Melones as part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of the Interior. 

• The Board is not overriding historic water rights; it has informed all water right holders that curtailment will happen on the basis of their priority of right. In fact, the curtailment process is designed to protect the type of senior water rights that SSJID and others hold. 

• The curtailment information on the Board’s website compares supply to demand and estimates the timing of potential impacts to water right holders for planning purposes. Whether or not curtailment notices will be issued to protect senior water right holders will be based on hydrology and use in the weeks and months to come. 

• The proposed curtailment action does not threaten the water supplies of the cities of Manteca, Lathrop and Tracy. The State Water Board’s first priority is to protect the health and safety of residents who rely on surface water. 

With the ongoing drought conditions, everyone will be faced with tough choices in the months to come. The importance of conservation as our first line of defense cannot be stressed enough. However, as water levels in our rivers and lakes decline with the arrival of warmer temperatures, everyone must be prepared for possible shortages. I have asked my staff to provide tools and assistance to water right holders, such as SSJID, to understand the issues involved in the curtailment process and plan ahead if there is not enough water available to meet all water right holder’s needs. 

 

Thomas Howard 
Executive Director
State Water Resources Control Board

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