SACRAMENTO — The state’s largest ranchers’ organization is praising a judge’s preliminary ruling that fees charged to California water rights holders are invalid.

The California Cattlemen’s Association filed a court brief in 2007 in support of the lawsuit by the California Farm Bureau Federation and other plaintiffs, the cattle group explained in a newsletter.

Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Raymond Cadei signaled last month he agreed with petitioners that the fees charged by the State Water Resources Control Board disproportionately burden rights holders with funding the agency’s Division of Water Rights. The proposed ruling could be finalized at an Oct. 30 hearing.

The fees are charged to some 13,000 water rights holders statewide. Each year, rights holders are charged $150 plus 5 cents for each acre-foot above 10 acre-feet.

The CCA “of course supports Judge Cadei’s initial rulemaking” and hopes it is made final, the organization stated in its legislative bulletin.

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