27 February 2009

Rural vs Urban in New Mexico

The New Mexico legislature is debating a bill [PDF] that will limit municipalities' ability to condemn water in rural areas, i.e., to claim water for urban use that is currently used for agriculture or the environment.

This prohibition makes sense to me, as I prefer voluntary transfers through markets to political grabs of resources in their traditional uses.

The Bill is under intense scrutiny this week, and there is probably going to be another vote next week. Here's the position of one group in favor:
Please call all members of the committee and tell them you support HB40. Municipalities already have a 40 year planning period in which to obtain water rights for their needs; there is no specific water right "necessary" to a project; an active market exists for water rights, so there is no need to ever condemn; condemnation of water and water rights eliminates incentives for conservation by municipalities, as well as destroying any incentive for linking land use and water; condemnation of water means that the future opportunities for small towns and rural areas are completely driven by municipalities hundreds of miles away because of their power and money to take the water from unwilling owners.
Bottom Line: Cities must first become water efficient (by charging MORE than cost for water!) before they look for more supplies. Even then, they should PAY (a lot!) for those supplies.

1 comment:

  1. Agricultural users of water in California should read this closely. One of the defenses against this taking is that >>an active market exists for water rights, so there is no need to ever condemn<<.
    Leaving aside the split infinitive, can we say that about California with a straight face? Use it (in this case, expose it to the market) or lose it.

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