Water District Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing Groundwater for His California Farm

Water District Official Pleads Guilty to Stealing Groundwater for His California Farm

United Water Conservation District on North Rose Avenue in Oxnard, Calif., in November 2022. (Google Maps/Screenshot via California Insider)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

4/1/2024

Updated: 4/1/2024

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A former Ventura County, Calif., water district official pleaded guilty March 29 to one felony count of grand theft of water.
Daniel Naumann, 66, of Camarillo, is expected to be sentenced to 30 days in the Ventura County Jail and ordered to pay full restitution, then serve two years of probation, Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko announced Friday.
Mr. Naumann is a longtime grower and owner of Naumann Family Farms in Oxnard. The farm opened for business in 2006 and offers “custom farming and ground work,” according to its website. He was also elected as a board member of the United Water Conservation District and an alternate board member of the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency.
The district attorney’s office claims investigators from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office discovered groundwater diversion channels that were apparently installed on two commercial water pumps to irrigate Naumann’s crops.
The bypasses diverted pumped water to irrigation lines before the water reached meters for billing purposes, according to Mr. Nasarenko. Between 2019 and 2021, Mr. Naumann reportedly pumped nearly $30,000 of groundwater without paying required fees to the Fox Canyon agency.
Naumann resigned from the United Water Conservation District on March 2, according to a district statement.
United held a recruitment period to fill the open seat, and that effort ended Monday afternoon. The district expects to hold interviews and make an appointment to the board at its regular meeting on April 10, Chief Strategy Officer Tara Bravo Mulally told The Epoch Times.
United and Fox Canyon districts manage and preserve groundwater resources for agricultural uses in Ventura County. Both agencies set water allocation limits and charge agricultural user fees to pump groundwater, according to Mr. Nasarenko.
Since 1950, the United Water Conservation District manages and conserves water supply in a 214,000-acre area in Ventura County. The district serves Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Ventura, Santa Paula, Fillmore, the Naval Base Ventura County, and several mutual water districts, farms, and individual customers.
“Stealing water is a serious crime,” Mr. Nasarenko said in a statement Friday. “This felony conviction holds the defendant accountable for his conduct and sends a clear message that evading fees and illegally diverting water will result in criminal consequences.”
Mr. Naumann is scheduled for sentencing May 24 in Ventura County Superior Court. He was released pending sentencing.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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