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
Worthy topics for Jerry Brown – but it’s an election year
By Phillip Matier And Andrew Ross : sfgate – excerpt
Gov. Jerry Brown pretty much kicked off his re-election campaign the other day with his State of the State address when he told the assembled lawmakers and media, “I used to say, ‘Take the ins and throw them out – take the outs and throw them in.’ I don’t say that anymore.”
So let’s look at some of the issues that may give Brown fits, starting with his two biggest projects – the largely unfunded, $68 billion high-speed rail line and the twin tunnels that would send Northern California water south.
Neither one is exactly a winner with voters these days.
“I certainly wouldn’t vote for them,” said state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, who happens to be the front-runner to succeed retiring Rep. George Miller in Washington – which is where much of the money for those projects would have to come from… (more)
Governor says state is above the law when it comes to drought
centralvalleybusinesstimes – excerpt
California’s primary environmental protection law, the California Environmental Quality Act, doesn’t apply to the state when it comes to the drought.
Fish or whatever CEQA tries to protect will no longer have that shield under Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of a state of emergency because of the drought. Also to be ignored is compliance with water quality plans.
In the governor’s mind and declaration, the state Department of Water Resources and the Water Board can ignore CEQA if it hampers the release of reservoir water or transfers of water between the state and federal irrigation projects… (more)
Comments on the source suggested, as well as messages to state officials.
Delta water plan released for public scrutiny
by Melody Gutierrez : sfgate – excerpt
Sacramento — After seven years in the making, the $25 billion plan to build two massive tunnels diverting water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is up for public review. And one thing is clear: You better grab your reading glasses.
The 9,000-page Bay Delta Conservation Plan and 25,000-page environmental impact report pack a hefty punch, particularly considering the public has 120 days to comment on the documents, which state officials said contain significant revisions since first drafts were released this year… (more)
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