California's flawed water system can't track usage

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Associated Press

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 27 at 1:10 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — In the midst of a prolonged drought, some California water users are far more equal than others.

An Associated Press review finds nearly 4,000 California companies, farms and others are allowed to use free water with little oversight even as deliveries to nearly everyone else have been severely slashed.

Their special status dates back to claims made more than a century ago when water was plentiful. These "senior rights holders" dominated by corporations and agricultural concerns are not obliged to conserve water.

Together, they hold more than half the rights to rivers and streams in California.

The AP found the state's monitoring system is based on self-reported, error-filled records. The state only collects the records every three years on a staggered basis, meaning its information is always out of date.

The antiquated system blunts California's ability to move water where it is most needed.

Sound:

%@AP Links

290-a-08-(Al Montna (MAHNT'-nah), rice farmer, in AP interview)-"agricultural based economy"-Rice farmer Al Montna says the drought has a severe, widespread impact. (26 May 2014)

<<CUT *290 (05/26/14)££ 00:08 "agricultural based economy"

293-a-09-(Jay Lund, director, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, in AP interview on May 7, 2014)-"a legal sense"-Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, says inequitable water distribution is a serious problem. (26 May 2014)

<<CUT *293 (05/26/14)££ 00:09 "a legal sense"

291-a-05-(Al Montna (MAHNT'-nah), rice farmer, in AP interview on May 1, 2014)-"resources in California"-Rice farmer Al Montna says he'll get through the current drought, but California must take action to assure enough water in the future. (26 May 2014)

<<CUT *291 (05/26/14)££ 00:05 "resources in California"

289-a-03-(Al Montna (MAHNT'-nah), rice farmer, in AP interview on May 1, 2014)-"flooded and seeded"-Rice farmer Al Montna, standing in a dry field, says the current drought is in sharp contrast to what once was an abundant supply of water. (26 May 2014)

<<CUT *289 (05/26/14)££ 00:03 "flooded and seeded"

292-a-09-(Jay Lund, director, UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, in AP interview on May 7, 2014)-"defined water rights"-Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, says the drought is likely to stimulate action to correct inequitable water distribution. (26 May 2014)

<<CUT *292 (05/26/14)££ 00:09 "defined water rights"

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