California has a real water market — but it’s not exactly liquid
By Nathanael Johnson : grist – excerpt
When I started reporting on California’s drought I heard a lot of people complaining that farmers were growing crops that would simply be prohibitively expensive if they had to buy and sell their water at a fair market price.
That seemed like a big problem. I wrote:
The best fix would be a comprehensive overhaul of the laws to make the price of water clear and responsive to scarcity. If the price of water moved according to the laws of supply and demand, ecological limits would provoke change.
But then I learned that, actually, California already has a water market. Farmers can buy and sell water. In theory, this market should distribute water to where it’s needed most. That is, if there are people who can make more money growing food on their land than I can on mine, they’d buy my water.
And for the most part, it works. Farmers trade water all the time — especially from the east side of the San Joaquin Valley to the west. “The people who are doing those deals really do have a pretty good idea of what the market price of water is,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California…
California has the infrastructure to move water: giant dams, pumps, canals, tunnels that run under mountain ranges, and pipes that go over them. A farmer on the Trinity River, 200 miles north of San Francisco, can sell water to Los Angeles, and the system can actually make that delivery. But the journey is risky… (more)
Selling water rights
ca.statewater – excerpt – (interactive map)
Interactive map showing California’s water supply.
THE RIGHT TO BEAR KNOWLEDGE
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
The primary challenge with water in California is not its scarcity, but rather how we manage it. Many experts have mutually concluded, that a major first step to improving our management of water is by reforming how we account for it. Whether a lack of adequate statements of diversion for surface and subsurface waters, or the existence of a fine grained environmental monitoring network, it is clear that we could do a better job of recording and measuring. New instruments and institutions are necessary to accomplish this. It is not a question of technology, but one of techniques. The technology is available and affordable, but the institutions and practices of how we measure and document our water resources are not fully mature. We must get control of our understanding of what is in the system at any given point. We owe it to ourselves, our economy, and our ecosystem. This effort benefits all stakeholders.
Supported by PATAGONIA, INC. a California B Corp
by Kenneth Kecskes : realestatecounsel – excerpt
When environmental review of a proposed development project by a state agency shows that it will have traffic impacts, a state agency is not allowed to nevertheless approve the project on the grounds that the funds needed to mitigate congestion have not been earmarked by the Legislature, the California Supreme Court has held.
The court’s recent unanimous decision in City of San Diego v. Board of Trustees of the California State University is significant for two important reasons. First, it is now clear that state agencies cannot shift the costs of off-site environmental mitigation of their projects to local and regional governments, except in very limited circumstances. Second, the use of a “statement of overriding considerations” by the legislative body of a lead agency will not be given deference by the courts if potential mitigation measures are not “truly infeasible.”…
… if the Legislature did not make an earmarked appropriation for specific environmental mitigation, the Board of Trustees argued that it could take the position that mitigation was infeasible and the Board of Trustees could adopt a statement of overriding considerations and approve the project. A “statement of overriding considerations” is a legal tool under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) that allows a reviewing public agency to approve a project because it offers non-environmental benefits that outweigh its unmitigated significant environmental effects…
CEQA is not only a procedural statute. Many provisions of CEQA have as their focus the preparation of environmental documents to inform the public and decision makers of the significant environmental impacts of proposed projects. However, as this case makes clear, CEQA’s “substantive” limitations on the powers of state agencies and local legislative bodies to make decisions should not be overlooked… (more)
California Supreme Court Holds that State Agencies May Not Escape CEQA Mitigation Requirements Based on Failure of the Legislature to Appropriate Mitigation Funds : In a decision that enhances the ability of local interests to obtain mitigation funds from state agencies, the California Supreme Court held that the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) requires the Board of Trustees (“Board”) of the California State University (“CSU”) to mitigate the cumulative traffic impacts of a campus expansion project where the Legislature had not appropriated funds to pay for the traffic mitigation… (more)
California Supreme Court Could Stop Bullet Train : The California Supreme Court threw a giant obstacle on the California bullet train’s track, ruling that the state agencies cannot escape the state’s environmental laws by claiming federal laws supersede them… (more)