Home » Bauer-Kahan Seeks to Strengthen Water Management and Address the Drought

Bauer-Kahan Seeks to Strengthen Water Management and Address the Drought

Press Release

by CC News

Sacramento, CA – Today Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee introduced legislation to address the ongoing emergency of the drought and water management by strengthening the oversight of State Water Resources Control Board.

“We do not have the regulatory tools to handle the new normal of megadrought,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. “Ongoing illegal or wasteful water use practices can become the difference between access to water or dry taps in the future. This bill will give the State Water Board the tools it needs to effectively enforce water rights and protect our water resources
for present and future generations.”

AB 460 empowers the State Water Board to act swiftly to prevent harm to the environment, public health, and water resources caused by illegal or wasteful uses of water. The bill grants the Board the authority to issue an interim relief order to halt harmful water use practices that violate the Constitution, water quality objectives, water right permits and licenses, and fish and wildlife.

Note – This bill would authorize the board to issue, on its own motion or upon the petition of an interested party, an interim relief order in appropriate circumstances to implement or enforce these and related provisions of law. The bill would provide that a person or entity that violates any interim relief order issued by the board would be liable to the board for a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the sum of $10,000 for each day in which a violation occurs and $5,000 for each acre-foot of water diverted in violation of the interim relief order. The bill would require these funds to be deposited in the Water Rights Fund.

With the ongoing drought crisis and Colorado River’s uncertain future, California’s future is in peril. Illegal water diversions are an existential threat to the state’s already limited water resources, which endangers the environment and human life. The current enforcement regime has proven insufficient to deter excessive and illegal water use, which accumulates in frequency and harm each year.

“We are living in a changing climate and California’s water law and policy needs to evolve to keep pace. This bill would ensure the Water Board can act swiftly to stop illegal diversions in order to limit the damage to ecosystems and other water users in times of shortage,” said Matt Clifford, California Director of Law and Policy for Trout Unlimited.

“California’s rivers and streams provide crucial water supplies for fish, families, and farms. At a time when our climate is rapidly getting drier, it is more important than ever that water users who deliberately violate the law aren’t allowed to take water at the expense of everyone else,” said Redgie Collins, Legal and Policy Director for California Trout.

This bill is co-sponsored California Trout, Trout Unlimited and The Planning and Conservation League, organizations that are dedicated to preserving California’s natural resources for future generations.

“This bill is a critical step in protecting California’s water resources,” said Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan. We need to take this kind of smart, bold action to ensure a sustainable future for California.”

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