9 Mar 2010

Speaking of Other People's Money

This exchange among Central Valley farmers got my attention:
But the idea of outside regulation doesn't sit well with growers. Farmers see groundwater as their last resort in a drought, and they are reluctant to relinquish any right to pump it.

"Overdraft is here. So who are you going to try and regulate?" asked Westside farmer and commissioner John Howe.

Howe was responding to a statement by Kings County Counsel Peter Moock that the overdraft situation is probably "going to get worse."

"An end has to come to that [overdraft] at some point," Moock said.
Remember that these guys claim that more surface water will reduce overdraft. I doubt that will happen, as long as they are unwilling to put any restrictions on overdraft (robbing from their future).
On a related note, I see that Westlands has quit ACWA. It seems that Westlands has decided that its interests are not the same as a majority -- there's no "I" in team. That's quite a signal. Are politicians listening?


  1. The news of Westlands quitting ACWA made me think of the photo in this old post of yours. http://aguanomics.com/2009/05/whats-acwa-doing.html

  2. The ground water appropriators are "shooting themselves in the foot".

    After witnessing first hand for the last 50 years what has happened in other huge drainage basins ( South Platte, Arkansas, Rio Grande) because of ground water litigation/restriction/legislation equitable solutions do exist, but they must be legally initiated early or the whole system ends up shooting itself in the other foot.

    CA won't miss the water until the well runs dry ...

    Retired Water Rights Analyst

  3. David…you’ve been a vocal advocate of letting the dollar rule when it comes to water supplies. I would have thought you might have put that into your thinking about the use of surface water vs. groundwater. Groundwater can be more expensive to pump than surface water depending on energy costs. A farmer will usually opt for the lesser cost when water quality and reliability are equal. Groundwater use increases when surface water is not available or is priced above pumping costs. Conjunctive use districts have known this for years and already manage groundwater this way. Affordable surface water use not only avoids these higher costs but it can and is used to replenish the groundwater supply. Your comment doubting that this takes place rings hollow. Mike Wade/CA Farm Water Coalition

  4. @MHenry -- we agree, but I disagree that ALL costs are included in either surface or ground. The case with groundwater that's shared by many people is well-known: overpumping will occur unless there are governance controls (either local or from a higher gov't level).

    So you have to ask "what costs?" and I argue for an inclusive definition.


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