State board again delays vote on contentious river plan

Under pressure from Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, state regulators once again postponed a vote on a contentious plan to force San Francisco and several big San Joaquin Valley irrigation districts to give up some of their water supplies for environmental protection.

On the eve of Wednesday’s scheduled vote, Brown and the man who will succeed him next year, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, asked for a month’s delay and promised to get involved in ongoing settlement negotiations.

If adopted, the State Water Resources Control Board proposal to boost flows on three salmon-bearing rivers would amount to an unprecedented step to hold districts with historic water rights accountable for the environmental toll of their massive diversions.

The agricultural districts, which staked their claims to the river flows a century or more ago, have bitterly contested the proposed restrictions, calling them economically devastating and vowing to challenge them in court.

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