23 Jun 2011

Crazy California

I moved to the Netherlands to distance myself from water mismanagement, but some of these stories are too surreal to pass up. To wit:
  1. The State Water Resources Control Board will have a public hearing on August 22, 2011 to determine if it should approve a petition [PDF] for long-term transfer of 10,000 acre-feet of water from the Department of Water Resources to Westlands Water District. WTF?

  2. Rep. Nunes and two other co-sponsors of HR 1837 (The Batshit Crazy Give Me Water Act of 2011) did not attend the hearing where opponents of HR1837 spoke. I guess they were out drilling wells in Fresno County?

    What would that bill do? Lloyd Carter has a few interesting excerpts:
    “H.R.1387 limits the amount of water that one group must provide and thus shifts the burden for additional water to everyone else. Now everyone else just happens to be all of the superior water right holders in California so that in-Delta diverters, upstream diverters on the rivers, area of origin people, all will now be subject to decreased water supply because the junior most parties are limited, if this passes, in what they have to contribute. That’s a monumental change in both California law and state and federal policy. It completely undoes the water rights system in California,” Herrick [Counsel and Manager of the South Delta Water Agency in Stockton] said.
    The upshot is that junior water users will take water from senior water users. If that's not a Fifth Amendment taking (by the government, to favored parties), then I will eat my hat. I guess that property rights don't matter to Westlands and Paramount Farms when they are doing the taking.
Bottom Line: Political reallocations of water favor the powerful and corrupt over social interests and economic efficiency. H/T to RM


The Pasadena Pundit said...

Re: Westlands Water District and the inversion of junior water rights.

Remember that MWD and Westlands have a compact for transfer of water.


Anonymous said...

WTF? - Am I missing something? This is a transfer for groups with lands in SWP contractor service territories to land in Westlands, a CVP contractor. If the parties to the transfer want to move water they use to irrigate land in Empire and Tulare to land they own in Westlands instead, shouldn't they be able to.

If I am missing something, please fill me in.

Mr. Kurtz said...

I don't know any of the specifics of this deal, but a good portion of the SWP service area is poor quality land (viz: the area in Kern County east of I-5), and is burdened with very high standby charges to pay for the infrastructure bonds issued so that water could be distributed. (The SWP was done on a more pay-as-you-go basis.) Owners of a lot of these lands just packed it in and let the water districts take back the essentially worthless land. The good part of Westlands is far more productive. So it well make sense to transfer water to a place where it can be put to better use.

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