California proposes historic $1.5M fine for taking water

Posted at 2:50 PM, Jul 20, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The California water board has proposed the first-of-its-kind, $1.5 million fine for water-taking during the drought.

The move announced Monday targets a group of Central Valley farmers.

The State Water Resources Control Board said it's proposing the first fines of this kind for a water district with century-old claims to water.

The so-called senior water rights holders have generally been protected from mandatory cutbacks.

The board said the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District illegally took water from a pumping plant after getting a warning that there was not enough water.

The district served farmers in three counties in the agriculture-rich Central Valley and a residential community of 12,000 people.

District spokeswoman Erin Gilhuly did not have an immediate comment. The district has sued the state over water cuts.

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