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California proposes historic $1.5M fine for taking water

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Posted at 2:50 PM, Jul 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-07 09:11:03-04

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.

(Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)