California farms and Bay Area cities ordered to stop diverting water from rivers

State water regulators have ordered numerous farmers, agricultural water districts, and communities to stop diverting water from rivers and streams along the San Joaquin River as a result of California's severe drought.

According to Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the state water board's water rights division, starting Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board will make "significant, very deep cuts" for water users, primarily in the San Joaquin River watershed.

According to state officials, 4,571 water rights and claims in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed are being curtailed, affecting more than 2,000 water rights holders.

There are 212 public drinking water systems, including San Francisco, as well as a list of large agricultural irrigation districts and hundreds of individual farmers.

In August, the state issued curtailment notices to a larger group of 4,500 water rights holders. That's out of a total of over 16,000 water rights holders, according to records.

Water supplies of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, and other municipal suppliers are all affected by the latest restrictions.

Agricultural water districts such as Merced Irrigation District, Oakdale Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, and El Dorado Irrigation District are among those whose supplies have been cut, according to state records.

The curtailments, according to the state water board, will reduce diversion by about 443,000 acre-feet in June, which is nearly 90% of the average annual water use in Los Angeles.