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Kern v Kings

So, we have Kings versus Kern water districts, and we have Boswell versus Resnick and Vidovich.

Dec 28, 2019

It's hard to believe a water district in the Central Valley could have more water than they could use, but that's apparently the case with the Kings River Water Association that let over a million and a half acre feet of water flow down the Kings River to the San Joaquin River to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and out to sea.  That's according to the Semitropic Water Storage District of Kern County that did not let it go unnoticed and have applied to the State Water Resources Control Board to get their hands on the water under one of the first rules of water rights...use it or lose it.  They didn't use it, so will they lose it?

The thing about this story that makes it hard to understand is that the Kings River Water Association probably has the best place to store excess water, a dry lake.  The Tulare lake bed is where excess water is supposed to go.  While the rest of us argue about building dams and reservoirs, the Tulare lake bed is a natural place for water storage.  But, because it's dry most of the time the J.G. Boswell Company turned it to farmland long ago.  Nevertheless, it's still where excess water is supposed to go when it's available and it didn't happen and we can only believe it's because the Boswell Company didn't want to flood perfectly good crops.  The Boswell Company is one of the biggest farming operations in California with well over an hundred thousand acres of irrigated land.

The Semitropic Water Storage District also has a couple of big players in the world of farmland and water.  You've probably heard of Stewart Resnick and his Wonderful Company, formerly Paramount Farms.  They also have over a hundred thousand acres of irrigated farmland.  And another less well-known Semitropic player is John Vidovich who who has more quietly amassed over a hundred thousand acres and control over corresponding water rights.  

So, we have Kings versus Kern water districts, and we have Boswell versus Resnick and Vidovich.  You have some big players with some clout.  So, how will this play out?  That will be up to another player in this story, the State Water Resources Control Board.  Remember, Semitropic's case is that the Kings River Water Association is 'wasting' water by letting it run down the Kings River to the San Joaquin River to the Delta and out to sea.  The Water Board hasn't, in the past, believed water running through the Delta to the sea is 'wasted'.  They have seen it as a beneficial use, and we have written many articles on how much water goes to the sea year after year.  

But, also remember that the Water Board is appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom, who has tried to appear more friendly to the Central Valley.  He vetoed Senate Bill 1, which would have protected Endangered Species from President Trump's attempt to redo the Biological Opinions that curtailed water pumping out of the delta to the Central Valley and Southern California.  He was blasted by newspapers like the L.A. Times who said it was "especially galling that Newsom is carrying Trump’s water by rejecting SB 1."  But then he threatened to sue the Trump Administration over those same diversions out of the delta.  Those same newspapers have noticed he has yet to do it.  Again, the L.A. Times says Newsom "has to decide whether he’s working for Californians...or strictly for the agriculture industry...Or for Trump."

So does one of these large farm organizations have enough juice to beat the other?  Will the Water Board appointed by Governor Newsom side with one or the other?  Or would they rather the water go to the sea?  Will the Governor intervene?

As big and powerful as these farm organizations are, our bet is on the Water Board letting that water run right out to sea.  That's just what they do.


LOIS HENRY: Local water guys eyeing Kings River flood water

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