Photo by Erin Ryan: Mark Baird and Craig Chenoweth turn on Mark’s water irrigation diversion defying the DFG.

By Barbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

Parts of California are drying up, such as areas of a once fertile, agricultural breadbasket in the San Joaquin Valley. What were lush, productive fields are now a distant memory. Why? Because the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) has decided to re-interpret the Lake and Streambed Alteration Program (DFG code, section 1600) to include the normal use of water as a “permitable” action.

Here is the vague wording that allows such a broad interpretation:

If DFG determines that the activity may substantially adversely affect fish and wildlife resources, a Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement will be prepared. The Agreement includes reasonable conditions necessary to protect those resources and must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The entity may proceed with the activity in accordance with the final Agreement. (DFG)

It is this agreement that in effect, transfers water rights from the property owner to the CDFG. 

To keep this in perspective, let’s take a look at how water is allocated to see just how much water farmers really get as opposed to water used for environmental concerns. According to Cassandra Anderson of MorphCity:

The division of water is as follows:

  • A whopping 48% goes to the environment (that means the federal government has control over it via the Endangered Species Act – ESA), and most of that water flows right into the Pacific Ocean!
  • 41% Goes to Agriculture
  • 11% Goes to Urban use

Does it make any sense at all to take more water from farmers in the guise of “saving the environment,” and turn a once booming agricultural community supplying precious food to our nation into a dust bowl just to let that precious water flow right into the Pacific Ocean?

The following is a letter from Mark Baird, Vice President of Protect Our Water, Scott Valley:

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) is using the cloak of environmental concern to gain control of all surface Water Rights in the State. The CDFG has decided to “re-interpret” a sixty year-old water law, Section 1600,” to include the act of turning on the water as a permitable action.

If successful, these permits can cost as much as $30,000 per diversion. The goal is MONEY — (a self-funding agency that can raise fees at will); and POWER — (the ability to modify judicially decreed and appropriative water rights).

This program was suggested to CDFG by Cal Trout and the Natural Heritage foundation.

No one in this Siskiyou County watershed is stealing water. All of our Water Rights are recorded. All diversions are on California Dept. of Water Resource (DWR) maps. The DWR is receiving all the required reports.

I can prove with CDFG documents that the CDFG has been killing Wild Coho Salmon for 20 years. This is in violation of the federal listing in 1996 of coho salmon to the Endangered Species Act.

The CDFG is using threats and extortion to coerce ranchers and farmers into voluntarily signing contracts, which give control of surface Water Rights to CDFG.

Our group is refusing to sign. We will not submit, we will not sign our property over to CDFG. WE WILL FIGHT to protect our property. Water Rights are property rights under the State Constitution.

If the CDFG is successful here, the rest of California will be next.

On April 1, 2011,

About 150 people showed up to support Mark and Cyndi Baird when they officially and legally turned on their irrigation water diversion today, April 1, 2011. California Dept. of Fish and Game Warden told Mark that he could be cited for not having a Permit to do so. Mark stands on his Constitutional Right of property and states he does NOT need a Permit to use his Water Right.

In fact, Mark told the Game Warden to come to the Water Rally Protest and arrest him. No one from Fish and Game showed up. More than 20 folks made the one-lane road trip up to the mountain diversion and helped turn the crank on the diversion above the fish screen.

(Klamath Basin Crisis)

The Scott Valley Protect Our Water (POW) mission statement:

  • We say NO to those regulations that are attempting to destroy our constitutional Rights.
  • We will not submit, nor sign our rights away.
  • We will stand on those Constitutional Rights with all our resources at our command.

The following is taken from “Civil Disobedience, the Right of Revolution:”

Our government enacts laws that intend to subjugate and enslave. We are hit from all sides with programs that invade our privacy, take away our rights as free citizens, and make chattel of us. Our government is out of control, and its laws do not stand for what is right. Therefore, it is our duty as citizens to question its authority. It is our duty as citizens to revolt. Thoreau states: “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist the government when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.” This revolution is not one to eliminate the government, but to make it better. “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government” (Thoreau, 1849).

© 2011 Barbara H. Peterson


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15 Responses to “The Great California Water Swindle and Property Grab”

  1. Water rights vs public resources is a complicated issue. I don’t want to see the loss of small family farms anymore, but we also cannot sacrifice our aquatic public natural resources for private farm goods. The fish are the last free roaming spiecies on the contininet that haven’t been hunted to near extinction. If we lose the fish, they’re gone for good. I don’t want a society solely dependent upon the whims of private farmers for food. It leaves the citizenry too vulnerable. That said, I do not want to make the small farmer the main target of an effort to save the fish. Large corporate farms are my enemy at this point. They hire illegals, and are heavily subsidized by the tapayer. There must be some way we can come to some sort of alliance with the small farmers and jointly beat down the biggest abusers of the water.

  2. Liz Bowen says:

    Thank you Barbara for posting Mark Baird’s comments and the photo of Mark and Craig Chenoweth turning-on the headgate. Thank you for understanding and standing up for our little ag valley.
    This water is from small mountain streams. There is still plenty for the fish in the spring. Coho salmon are not natural to our area and were planted by the Dept. of Fish and Game — most records were shredded or are no longer available.
    In California this water is part of our deed and a property right. Our water does NOT flow south to corporate farmers or urban areas.
    If we don’t use this tiny amount, it goes underground or out to sea. Most Water Rights are extremely small at 2 cfs or less. We are truly small family ranchers with NO impact on other areas. But we are the target!

  3. Marla says:

    Secret water diversion operation began 50+ yrs ago.

    City of Fresno is having residents killed in order to seize control of private property – secretly replacing the water system, followed by altered records to cover up the evidence.

    Upon being caught, Mayor Alan Autry (aka: Bubba Skinner) ordered the cover-up. Perjury/R.O. to deny. Death threats followed.

  4. Pamela says:

    WOW! Someone of you folks in here are just plain dense! We all are going to be seeing more, “water wars” across this world. David and DDearborn, you both need to buy a clue and do some major research before you talk like clueless bullies in here. Who are you both?

    Of the water is under their ground, why not let them use it to grow food for you and I. These are the poor farmers, get it. I don’t mind letting them have a break. Better them than letting China come over here and steal our fresh water from the Great Lakes. Jesse Ventura did a story on that. Even showed the large hoses coming out of the lakes into the thick woods of Michigan as to hide the fact that our government is letting to have it for FREE!

    Our government let us all down with giving away our Military Technology, letting huge powerful companies go over seas and hire slave labor people so they didn’t have to pay us $20.00 a hour. We own China because it was planned along time ago. To destroy our once great country.

    Why don’t you write Congress, Senators and the President and ask why we import more from China than we export and their taxes are dirt cheap compare to ours. President Clinton give away our Military Technology while the rapist was in office.

    They control most of the food now and soon they will have all the water under our feet and we will pay a heft price for it too!

    Bryan is right, this is all part of Agenda 21, the UN will have control but the Bankers will be the one who profits from this.

    So, be deal a few old farmers are taking what is their for free! It’s there on their land.

    The Bush family bought hundreds of thousands of acres in Paraguay and guess what is under that land? Yeah, a HUGE WATER TABLE!

    Yeah think that the Bush family is going to share their water with anyone who lives in that country, or have it haul to America for their fellow citizens? Please…the own that water under their damn feet!

    So, do some research and don’t be so petty, go out side the box and see get the big picture here.

    “He who controls the food and water, controls the people!”

    Another stranglehold that the UN and WHO has on all of us is:



    Behind the Codex Alimentarius Commission is the United Nations and the World Health Organization working in conjunction with the multinational pharmaceutical cartel and international banks.

    He who owns the food, controls the world. “The Codex will make what they did in WWII look like kids stuff.

    And than there is “Monsanto”. That already dominates America’s food chain with its tactics—ruthless legal battles against small farmers—and its decades-long history of toxic …

    We have bigger issues to deal with and fight harder than some old famers there and there trying to get water for the food that they grow to feed you and I!!

    They want us to fight each other, let’s not and learn what evil is going on around us all and inform each other of knowledge here in the internet while we can still read what is going on.

    I believe in the very near future, we won’t recognize our own country and way of life. Sad, but true. They have planned this for a very long time and we all will have no more rights and the abundants of fresh food and water will be a thing of the past…like a dream.

  5. DDearborn,

    Do you buy water? Do you think that water is a commodity that should be sold? These farmers have a hard enough time, and no, they are not rich, and no, they are not asking for special privileges. They are exercising a right that they have had for years. They provide a benefit to the community, as well as food. Yet, they are being penalized for doing so. And just who will be there to provide food if they cannot get water to grow it? Do you grow your own food? If you don’t, I suggest you start.

    You say that water is a public resource that should be shared, yet you say that people should pay for it. You cannot have it both ways. Either it is for the public, which includes farmers, or it is a private commodity, owned by a corporation, and sold as a commodity.

  6. DDearborn says:


    The trouble with giving “small” farmers “special” treatment is the same as giving “special” treatment to Big farmers. What “right” do farmers have to get special treatment that is NOT given to every other citizen? I have a pet rock farm needs water, if you can get water for yours I sure as heck have a “right” to get some for mine. Large or small is merely a label. The fundemental issue here is does the state have a right to give away something the belongs equally to everyone and concentrate it in the hands of a tiny and wealthy minority? Simply put you are demanding that a scare public resource be given to private citizens. Private citizens I might add that as a group are realitively speaking far better off financially than the rest of the population. And worse still is that the intent here is NOT to provide for the public good. The intent here for this select minority is to make MONEY off essentially free water that belongs to someone else.

    If farmers want water let them buy it just like the rest of us would have to if we needed more water. And of course the revenue generated from the sale of the water would benefit the State as a whole affording every citizen a far better chance to benefit.

  7. The Water War Crimes web site is required reading for all persons seeking to understand water issues in western North America

  8. You have brought up a very important issue, Rosalind, thank you. I am very interested in your material.

  9. April 27, 2011

    Any discussion of Water Issues in California should include the 20+ ongoing weather modification programs ongoing in California at this time. Pacific Gas & Electric Company and many other entities like the City of Los Angeles are engaged in these types of programs.

    When you modifiy the weather in one area of California it has serious consequences in other areas. There are many studies that show that snow and rain enhancement in one area produces droughts in other areas…and this should be a concern for all ranches and farms, who for the most part, don’t know about these programs or their implications when it comes to water.

    Also anyone may modify the weather in the state of California, any private individual, corporation, city, state, county, and any other entity can hire companies for this purpose with no state, local or federal oversight or control. The public has not been engaged in any debate, prior notification or consent for these actions to take place. This has to change.

    Also everyone should be aware that privatization of water systems and water sources are occuring in California and other areas at a staggering rate. Many ranchers and farmers in some areas have been put out of business when priviatization occurs and the rates for water are increased while private wells are closed or restricted use occurs.


    Rosalind Peterson
    Agriculture Defense Coalition

    Many issues face all of us at this time but water is one of the most criical of all issues.

  10. David,

    A very broad stroke, indeed! Are all Canadians cowards? Are all Mexicans stupid? Are all Jews money grubbers? NOT! Unfortunately, the Americans who are in positions of power are the sociopaths responsible for the widespread devastation you refer to. The average American hasn’t a clue. So, rather than deride a whole people, let’s educate.

  11. DDearborn,

    The farmers in this little group are NOT corporate farmers. In fact, they are just the opposite. Water is being taken from the little guys in the guise of “saving the fish.” This allows the larger corporate farmers who can afford to pay to play to dominate the farming industry with their mega-operations. To lump all farmers into a one size fits all mold and call them all “a group that subverts the political process for gain” is as broad a stroke as labeling all foreigners evil, or all people of a particular race stupid. The bottom line is, without farmers producing food, the majority of people would have none. We need to support the small farmer who, at this point, stands in the gap between starvation and life.

  12. amicus curiae says:

    Australia is further down this path.
    try water licenses costing 100s of thousands.
    watching massive floodwaters go to sea and silt up the river mouth, while no one made holding damns for later..theyre banned.
    watch the whole country go down the it isnt going to rain stupidity thanks to AGW converts with pushy NGo shills.
    its called the Murray Darling Basin Authority.
    buying back water,”for the environment”meaning farms cant grow, irrigate even with drippers, etc.
    and this is our major food fruit etc areas.
    Taxing dams and soon to tax rain on publics roofs. when Suburbanites cop that,,, finally..they just might wake up?

  13. DDearborn says:


    It is equally senseless to allow a tiny percentage of the citizens of California (less than 1%)corporate farmers to
    monopilize nearly 50% of the water. I could understand this if
    ALL citizens of the state SHARED in the profits from this hugely
    unequal and unjustice give away of public water to a few RICH
    farmers. But the fact is that many of these corporate hogs don’t even live in the state. I don’t recall seeing anything in either the State or US constitution granting special treatment for farmers. In plain english you are demanding that every man woman and child subsidize a few rich corporate farmers at the expense of everyone else.

    This is a group that subverts the political process for personal gain, illegally employees millions of ILEGAL aliens, destroys local ground water by dumping millions of tons of toxic fertilizer into the soil, the list goes on and on.

  14. David says:

    Americans would kill every critter and change all natural things to dust if there was a dollar in it for them.
    A more ignorant people cannot be found.
    Laws circumvent the greedy people of USA
    in other words Americans are stupid PERIOD
    they killed all the buffalo off
    killed off all the grizzly bears
    killed off all the grey wolves
    and so many others space does not permit

    MONEY it is the only thing Americans care about
    they are greedy and they are their own worse enemy

  15. Bryan says:

    This is all Agenda 21 stuff and the Wilderness Project. Keep standing up for your rights.