SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a California Cattlemen’s Association-sponsored bill to ease requirements for ranchers who must measure their water diversions from nearby streams.
The governor on Oct. 4 approved Assembly Bill 589 by Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, that changes a State Water Resources Control Board rule that those who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year hire a licensed engineer to install a water-measuring device.
Diverters will be able to instead install their own devices or implement their own measurement method after taking a course from the University of California Cooperative Extension. The UC will work with the water board in the coming weeks to develop the course.
“There will certainly be an effort on our part to make that happen as quickly as possible,” said Justin Oldfield, the CCA’s vice president of government affairs.
“We’re very appreciative that he signed the bill,” Oldfield said. “We look forward to implementing it into law as soon as possible.”
The bill passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature. While the UC typically doesn’t take positions on legislation, it supported this bill, said Larry Forero, a UCCE adviser based in Redding.
The legislation follows the water board’s decision early last year to ramp up reporting requirements for the state’s roughly 12,000 landowners and users who have water rights -- even those with pre-1914 and riparian rights.
The right holders must now report their diversions annually rather than every three years, and those who divert more than 10 acre-feet of water per year must also measure how much they take.
The reporting rule was phased in, with the largest diverters having to comply by Jan. 1 of this year. Those with rights to 100 acre-feet or more a year had until July 1 to install devices, and those with rights to divert 10 acre-feet must comply by Jan. 1, 2018.