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Supervisors pass water rights resolution

Joshua Sebold
Staff Writer
4/13/2011

The Plumas County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution recognizing water rights in the county and pledging to take them into account when conducting or approving watershed restoration projects in the county at a Tuesday, April 5, meeting.

Flood Control and Water Conservation District Manager Brian Morris brought the resolution before the board.

The document declared, “Effective planning for stream restoration projects requires notice to and coordination with potentially affected water users.”

It called for all environmental documents attached to such projects to include “an assessment of any short-term and long-term water supply impacts” along with “contingency plans and mitigation measures to offset foreseeable impacts.”

It concluded that the county would “work with interested parties” to develop additional strategies for ensuring projects don’t negatively impact “any holders of water rights.”

When a member of the public asked about ownership of water in Lake Davis, Morris explained, “People can own a right to use the water but the water is generally described as belonging to the people of the state of California.”

“So when people talk about having water rights, they are a property right, they can be bought and sold and there’s a clear possession of those rights.”

“A person is not said to own water but to have a right to use it and that’s the property right.”

“The Department of Water Resources has water rights to the water in Lake Davis and we have with them a long-term contract that goes through the year 2038 with provisions for renewal beyond that.”

At this point Crescent Mills resident Todd Anderson told the board he would like the resolution to specifically recognize his water rights.

Morris responded that he listed several prominent water right decrees over the years that included large groups of users but that he also included language to recognize all other water rights holders in the county.

That section reads: “the State Water Resources Control Board currently recognizes more than 500 other active water rights in Plumas County, including permits or licenses to appropriate water, certified stockponds, statements of diversion and use, and federal claims.”

After that explanation, Eastern Plumas Supervisor Terry Swofford moved to pass the resolution and Graeagle Supervisor Jon Kennedy seconded.

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