Vidovich made headlines – and a lot of enemies – in 2009 by permanently selling rights to 14,000 acre feet of state water from a Kings County water district to southern California for $73 million, according to media reports. The sale is still considered a blow to Kings’ water portfolio by other farmers. And Vidovich has said if he had to do it over, he wouldn’t make that sale.
His pumping and movement of groundwater out of its home district has also landed him in a dubious spotlight, according to media reports. In 2017, he made news again for his part in a plan to take Kings River flood water out of the county — an effort that’s still ongoing. Though he insists this flood water isn’t being used and is, in fact, a nuisance, locals consider it an attempted theft of the Kings River.
Vidovich participates on several local water boards, even serving as chair on one. Though he doesn’t seek out media attention, when asked about water under his control, he rarely refuses to talk. He often points out that water districts, which oversee water allocations and maintain infrastructure, are public entities, and the public has a right to information, as he told SJV Water in an interview for this story.
Though Boswell and Vidovich both have access to large shares of water, their relationship over this precious resource is downright antagonistic. They are now the driving forces behind two major legal battles over Kings River water.
In one battle, the Kings River Water Association, where Boswell is a major rights holder, is suing Tulare Lake Reclamation District 761 and Sandridge Partners, run by Vidovich, for shipping its Kings River water to lands it owns in western Kings County. The association contends that even though those lands are in the county, they are beyond what’s considered the river’s “service area.” And river water cannot be taken outside that service area, according to the lawsuit.
The case is being heard in Kern County by Judge David Lampe. The judge made a partial ruling in June that long standing river agreements do allow river owners to move water within the service area. The boundaries of that service area, however, have yet to be determined. A trial date has been set for December 2022.
Source : https://thecounter.org/small-farmers-water-for-profit-kings-county-california-san-joaquin-valley/412