25 May 2013

Flashback: 20-26 May

A year later and still worth reading...

Can we end hydraulic mining? My op/ed explaining why California faces water shortages. Applies elsewhere.

The US is to NL as MX is to the US, i.e., it's all relative.

Water pricing and metering -- a lesson from Aguanomics 101

1 comment:

  1. Economist, historian and sociologist Max Weber pointed out that society -- nor water bureaucracies -- work on money alone. Water doesn't always flow uphill towards money but also requires political legitimacy.

    Without legitimacy it may not matter how much money one has. The history of California water is that Southern California and farmers plausibly have more population and money than Northern California. Why haven't they been able to get water to flow downstream to them selves? Arguably, they have lacked legitimacy.

    The 1982 Peripheral Canal vote was shot down in Southern California because environmentalism de-legitimated taking Northern California water. In one sense, it was right: from 1970's to 2010's California has used same amount of water while the population has more than doubled. Conservation trumped water flowing uphill towards money.

    Historically, water in California has been "grabbed" by Force (Mulholland & MWD), Fraud (Mulholland and Feinstein) and by Consent of the Governed (common law of water rights, adjudicated groundwater basins, and by legitimate law (Colorado River Compact, State Water Project contracts, etc).

    There is an implied water social contract in California that diverts water wars: Southern California and Central Valley farmers get water especially during dry years and Northern California gets flood control levees and some water.

    When Southern California lost its allocation of excess Colorado River water that Arizona was entitled to it had to shift to rely more on the Sacramento Delta. But once again, there has been a legitimacy problem. Now Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Camarillo are moving to become 100% water self sufficient with no imports. This means that Southern California is gaining legitimacy in the North/South water wars.

    The materialist conception of economy -- even a highly regulated and socialized water economy -- is an outdated theory (a la Karl Marx) that does not adequately explain how California's water economy has historically worked.


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