Stockton can continue to pump water from the Delta this summer, ensuring that its new $220 million drinking-water plant – funded by ratepayers – will not stand idle.
The city was one of thousands of junior water-rights holders in the Central Valley ordered to stop taking water in recent weeks because of the drought.
That water was needed by those with older, more senior water rights, the State Water Resources Control Board said at the time.
The city appealed, arguing that its circumstances are different. Under a special section of state water law, Stockton is allowed to pump only as much water from the Delta as it releases back into the Delta at its wastewater treatment plant, a few miles downstream.
Ultimately, the state agreed, acknowledging in a letter that the city’s permit is “unique” and saying that the city can continue to take the water.
“It’s good news,” said Bob Granberg, assistant director of the city’s Municipal Utilities Department. “We’ll be able to back off groundwater pumping, and that will definitely help.”
The Delta water should help the city avoid any unusually aggressive water conservation requirements or rationing, he said.
The fact that Stockton will be drinking from the Delta this summer after all does not diminish the need to conserve. While the city has not taken any unusual steps to reduce water use, the rules that are in place every summer still apply.
Those rules include no outdoor irrigation from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., no washing cars unless hoses are equipped with nozzles, and no washing driveways and sidewalks except with pressure washers, among other requirements.
“We keep reminding people to conserve, and reminding them of the restrictions that are in place,” Granberg said.