Are California Farmers Stealing Water? Large Amounts Of Water Mysteriously Vanishing From Delta

Tara West

As California residents face strict water consumption restrictions as the mega-drought persists through the region, water is mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Many are placing blame on Delta farmers who say they will use as much water as they need because they historically have received "senior water rights."

The Daily Mail reports that despite water restrictions, large amounts of water is mysteriously vanishing from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Many in the community are pointing fingers at the farmers in the Delta, as they claim they have senior rights to the water in the area because they have tilled the land for generations.

The state of California is investigating the issue after two separate water supply agencies complained of missing water. However, due to California's 100-year old water rights system, Delta farmers can use as much water as they please, even in a drought situation. The farmers are very vocal about their "senior water rights" and claim that they will continue to use as much water as they need, regardless of the water crisis in the state. Delta farmer Rudy Mussi says that if he has surplus water he would share it, but says he won't stand for anyone with "junior water rights" taking his water.

"If there's surplus water, hey, I don't mind sharing it. I don't want anybody with junior water rights leapfrogging my senior water rights just because they have more money and more political clout."

The California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says that reporting from the farmers is necessary so that they can determine who is using what and if anyone is exceeding the amount offered in their water rights.

"In this drought period, water accounting is more important to ensure that the water is being used for its intended purpose."

[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan]