SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Despite California’s drought, Richard and Danna Jones’ cattle grazing pasture has stayed green thanks to water flowing free from a gulch claimed by his grandfather in 1911.
Their nearly ironclad right to water was suspended Friday when state regulators ordered them to stop taking the water for their rural property east of Redding. They are among more than 100 senior water rights holders told for the first time in decades that major waterways in California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley are too dry to meet demand, but aren’t expected to be the last.
“The place is going to look like hell,” said Danna Jones. She and her husband depend on money from letting cattle graze on their land to pay off property taxes.