Leg­is­la­tion re­stores water rights fair­ness

The Mercury News - - Opinion -

Talk about “Big Ag”? What about checks and bal­ances for big govern­ment? Pro­vid­ing fair­ness for all isn’t “cav­ing to Big Agri­cul­ture,” but a Mer­cury News editorial de­clared that As­sem­bly Bill 313, in­tro­duced by Assem­bly­man Adam Gray, D-Merced, is a Big Ag power grab.

Man­ag­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s water is crit­i­cally im­por­tant. AB 313 re­stores fair­ness cur­rently lack­ing for water rights hold­ers. Byron-Bethany Ir­ri­ga­tion District (BBID) urges Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it.

The State Water Board is cur­rently pros­e­cu­tor — ini­ti­at­ing en­force­ment ac­tions against al­leged vi­o­la­tors — and judge and jury. That struc­ture vi­o­lates due process. AB 313’s so­lu­tion: Neu­tral ad­min­is­tra­tive law judges would hear water rights mat­ters.

Yet, The Mer­cury News de­cries the bill as “lu­nacy.” Fair­ness does not equal lu­nacy, and BBID is not “Big Ag.” AB 313 makes sure ev­ery­one — even the lit­tle guy — gets a fair shake.

Rick Gil­more Gen­eral Man­ager, Byron Bethany Ir­ri­ga­tion District

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