For nearly two hours on Tuesday an Assembly policy committee debated one of several bills on reforming water rights.

Assembly Bill 460 would enable the State Water Resources Control Board to fine a diverter up to $10,000 a day for violating a curtailment order. State Water Contractors, however, contended the bill would expand the agencys authority without any checks and balances and allow it to establish new rules for legal diverters.

SWC General Manager Jennifer Pierre said that creating such uncertainty over water rights would disrupt infrastructure investments for climate resilience as well as commitments already in place for a set of voluntary agreements over flows into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta .

The committee also approved a bill that would enable the board to curtail senior water right holders outside of drought emergencies and without providing due notice, levying penalties for each day and for every acre-foot of water diverted.

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Water districts argued that such "extreme measures" would erode their investment, maintenance and ability to deliver water. They worried about having a state agency with insufficient data on water use step in to manage local systems on a weekly basis even in wet years.

Increasing the frequency with which the state water board manages the system with antiquated tools is not modernization,” said Valerie Kincaid, an attorney at Paris Kincaid Wasiewski representing several districts.