Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, October 12, 2023


John Buse, (323) 533-4416,

California Court to Hear Arguments to Halt Kern River Diversions

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— Conservation groups advocating for stronger Kern River protections will argue against destructive water diversions at a court hearing on Friday. The Kern County Superior Court will hear arguments in the lawsuit filed against the city of Bakersfield for ignoring the community and environmental harms of diverting water for agricultural use.

The lawsuit — filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, Bring Back the Kern, The Kern River Parkway Foundation, Kern-Kaweah Chapter Sierra Club, Water Audit California and Kern Audubon Society — argues that stopping the water diversions would help the fish and wildlife who depend on a healthy river without affecting the drinking water supply.

“The city and the agricultural diverters have a historic opportunity to restore the river, benefiting ecosystems and the public with minimal impact to regional water supplies for ag or municipal use,” said John Buse, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “This is something that should have happened a long time ago, and it's very disappointing that they continue to fight tooth and nail to prevent this.”

What: Court hearing on Kern River water diversions

When: Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, 8:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Where: Kern County Superior Court, Department 8, 1415 Truxtun Ave., Bakersfield, CA 93301

Who: Representatives from conservation groups will attend.

Background: The city of Bakersfield is the administrator and manager of all Kern River water diversions, which take place every day from several small dams mostly on behalf of neighboring agricultural water districts. In December 2022 conservation groups sued the city for ignoring the harms caused by the water diversions and violating California’s public trust doctrine, a legal principle that requires government agencies to protect public resources like the Kern River for the public good.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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