4 Oct 2010

Westlands, Nazis and Politicians

A few weeks ago, four Congressmen (Garamendi, Miller, Napolitano and Thompson) sent this letter [PDF] to Jean Sagouspe, President of Westlands Water District, asking some pointed questions about why Westlands was trying to sell water to MWD (urban Southern California), given that it had had just been engaged in a brutal campaign of its life-or-death need for more water (see this, this and this, among many posts).

I was as curious as everyone to see what Westlands would reply to questions like:
Why is the water that Westlands and its water users seek to sell, transfer or exchange this year not being used to replenish the groundwater basin overdrafted as a result of overuse?
Their reply to this question and eight other useful questions in the letter is here [pdf]. WWD claims that it cannot recharge groundwater (probably true, but not by accident) and that the water in their exchange with MWD does not come from their federal, subsidized water ("We estimate that 90 percent of the water in the exchange is not drawn from our CVP allocation at all.") This claim is deceptive, since water is fungible. It would be just as easy to say that all the water comes from the CVP allocation.

But wait, there's more. Rep. Nunes has added his words to this debate, Kanye West-style, in a blog post entitled "Westlands Water Boarding: The Truth About The Valley Water Masters" (but tweeted as "My birthday present to Westlands") that says, among other over-the-top cliches:
Water managers have made the decision to appease* radical environmentalists who have long sought to replace humans in the valley with tumble weeds and dust devils.


Radical environmentalists’ Field Marshall, Congressman George Miller, has taken aim at Westlands Water District. In a letter [the one above], Miller claims Westlands is deceiving the public and selling “extra” water.


While this grand game of appeasement continues, Westlands should keep in mind that their beloved valley drought master legislators are telling them one thing but doing something completely different in Washington DC.

Will the Westlands Water District be holding their next meeting in Munich?
So Nunes is accusing Westlands of appeasing Nazi enviros by responding to a letter from four Congressmen, with the consequence that Westlands will be taken over enviros (who apparently moved from San Francisco to Munich) as a slave colony full of tumble weeds.


Bottom Line: It's an election year. Who does Nunes need to please here?

* Yes, Nunes does explicitly compare environmentalists to Nazis.

Addendum: This article discusses Costa v. Miller et al. No sign of Nunes.


  1. Nunes comes across looking every bit as petulant and clueless as any municipal union boss, demanding that others pay up and shut up.
    Something funny happens when we try to use government to do things that markets do not want. No matter if it is building giant irrigation works, or supporting local-solar-organic-holistic pre-schools; the project may or may not be successful, but the certain result is a class of entitled users who will always want more. Forever.

  2. Nunes is only mad because he knows Westlands butters his bread, and that his nose will be stained brown for a long while. Fact of the matter is, Westlands farmers were well aware that they could be left high and dry for any reason.

    The contract between CVP and Westlands contains a clause, Article 11(a), that precludes government liability for “any damage, direct or indirect, arising from a shortage on account of errors in operation, drought, or any other causes.” Courts have found that clause to be unambiguous and clear on its face and the priorities established by the various contracts to be valid. The Bureau can decrease water deliveries for any reason when there is a shortage.


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