2 Aug 2011

Kern County Water Robbers

(via RM and DL):
lawsuits claim that enormous withdrawals of water by the banks lowered the water table, causing geological damage, service disruptions and costly repairs.

[snip]

A memorandum of understanding between the small local utility... and the Kern County Water Agency, which operates one of the water banks, stipulated that any problems resulting from its bank would be the agency’s responsibility.

But the agency said it was not to blame, and made no effort to cover costs.

[snip]

Now engineers believe it [the Bank] reversed the area’s underground hydraulic gradient, turning a hill-shaped water table, accessible by shallow wells, into a valley. The trigger for the huge withdrawals was a drought that began in 2007... in the 40 months beginning in March 2007, roughly half the banks’ capacity was pumped out to keep fruit and nut trees alive.
Sounds like the farmers using the Water Bank were more like robbers who emptied their vault -- and then that of their neighbors.

Why did this happen?
  1. No groundwater monitoring or regulation
  2. No property rights in groundwater
  3. Unequal political and financial power
We can't fix #3, but we can sure fix #1 and #2.

I wonder what Senator Feinstein would say? Would she contradict her aggie sugar-daddies in defending small farmers and little communities?

Bottom Line: The rich will rob the poor of their water until the rights of the poor are protected -- and this problem will only get worse as water scarcity increases.