9 Aug 2010

Subsidies for groundwater mining at Westlands

I have often praised Westlands Water District (and other irrigation districts) for their skills in turning water and land into food and money.

But my praise does not extend to their use -- perhaps dependence -- on financial and contractual subsidies that mean the difference between profit and loss, permanence and bankruptcy.

Even I could be a great profitable farmer, if you give me enough subsidies to lower the cost of my inputs (water, energy, labor) and increase the price of my outputs (corn ethanol, cotton, exim credits for almonds).

So I was annoyed to learn the (somewhat old) news that Westlands and other irrigators are getting (will get?) $40 million in federal "stimulus" money for drilling deeper wells [read this pdf]. These wells would be used to mine less-than-clean groundwater, so the subsidy is thrice unsustainable -- financially, environmentally and hydraulically.

Thanks DiFi, for stimulating stupid.

Bottom Line: I don't care if Westlands farmers want to destroy themselves, but I do care if they use MY MONEY to do it or -- worse -- continue unsustainable operations that turns WWD into a zombie irrigation district.


Josh said...

Hey, that's just a bonus they get for their special relationship with DIFI and friends.

Mike Wade said...

Will you explain what it is you mean when you say, "on financial and contractual subsidies," in your blog post.

And what is a "...zombie irrigation district?" That's a new one, even for me.

David Zetland said...

@Mike -- cash and exclusive access...

A zombie (my term) irrigation district -- or any business -- would not exist except for these subsidies. WWD would not.

Mister Kurtz said...

This example shows the stupidity of stimulus spending. I suppose there are hundreds of thousands of equally imbecilic "shovel-ready" (like the cat -box) projects going on around the country. It is not growth when you take money from my paycheck, and give it to someone else to do somehting that makes no economic (or in this case environmental, either) sense.

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