SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Some 50 million gallons of water were lost after an act of vandalism damaged an inflatable dam near San Francisco, the local Oakland Tribune newspaper reported on Friday.
The loss comes as the state is in its fourth year of a devastating drought that has prompted Governor Jerry Brown to impose the state's first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use, up to 36 percent in some communities.
Alameda County Water District officials told the newspaper that the agency reported the incident, which caused the water to run into the San Francisco Bay, to police around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday.
"This is a very significant loss of water under any circumstances, and more so in the drought conditions we are experiencing," water district general manager Robert Shaver told the newspaper. "It is an utterly senseless, destructive and wasteful thing to do."
The 49 million gallons were to be used by residents and businesses in the city of Fremont, some 33 miles (53 km) southeast of San Francisco, and surrounding communities, officials told the paper.
Water officials said that while the amount of water could have supplied 500 homes for a year, the loss would not likely have a "long-term impact on its water supply operations," according to the paper.
Police told the paper that no one had been arrested for the act of felony vandalism.
Regulators in an attempt to combat the continuing drought conditions approved a plan on Friday by some of the state's most senior water rights holders -- growers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta -- to voluntarily cut water use by 25 percent in exchange for assurances that they would not face further curtailments during the growing season.
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; Editing by Mark Potter)