Proposal: Calif. farmers could own water pipes

FRESNO, Calif. — The federal government is considering giving Central California farmers some massive water infrastructure to settle a lawsuit over drainage problems that killed birds and left farmland too salty for crops, according to a draft proposal obtained by The Associated Press.

Shifting the cleanup cost to the private sector would save the federal government about $2.2 billion, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation officials said Wednesday.

The complex deal could transfer the government’s stake in local pumps and drain pipes to some of the country’s biggest farming operations, according to a bureau letter detailing the legislative strategy for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

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Californians need to see the real water problems

From Aguanomics:

A guest post from David Schurr:

Many Californians believe there is a water shortage, actually there is a water management shortage fueled by economics.* Studies conclude that water exports are the major stressor to the Delta Ecosystem, which is the most productive estuary on the west coast. Essentially water exports have exceeded what the Delta ecosystem can handle. The result is an interruption in the food chain beginning with losses in zooplankton populations that sent fish populations crashing.

Even though The State Water Board declares that 75% of the state’s water is needed to protect the environment, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has allowed water contractors to deliver more water. This year environmental protections were overturned by Federal Court Judges to help farmers. Districts that received their water too late in the season simply used the surplus water to flush toxic salt and selenium from their fields, (no kidding) selenium that eventually ends up back in the Delta.

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Comment: Some good points, but the best way to allocate by price is through privatization. 

Some good points. And the best way to allocate a resource by price is to privatize it; which should be done with water.

Privatization update

Novato (Marin Co, N. Cal) voters approved a contract with Veolia, with 50.6 percent in favor, and Indianapolis voted to privatize its water operations, in exchange for $1.9 billion. I predict more of these deals.

To wit, the City of San Jose is thinking of selling its water system. The obvious candidate is the San Jose Water Company, an investor owned utility (IOU) that operates next door. The deal hinges on price.

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Comment. Great news! Sell them all.

Something’s not right about this California water deal

A lawsuit by water agencies and environmental groups contends the Kern Water Bank transaction was essentially a gift of public property to private interests and therefore violates the state constitution.

August 18, 2010|Michael Hiltzik
Students of California’s history of gold and oil rushes know it’s filled with examples of profiteering, conspiracy, influence-peddling and other chicanery.

So there’s no reason the story should be any different with that liquid gold of the 21st century, water.

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Comment: It’s not surprising that powerful private interests would manipulate the government to their advantage. The solution is to end the tax-subsidies while privatizing all water ownership, development an distribution.

Cash Flows in Water Deals

The newest wave for cash-strapped cities seeking money: Tapping their water.

Indianapolis is selling its water and sewer systems to a public trust to get money for crumbling streets and bridges. San Jose, Calif., fresh from cutting 49 firefighters, might take its water utility private. “Excess” tap water in Sacramento, Calif., is helping supply a Nestlé SA bottling plant.

Such deals are bringing some money to cash-strapped cities. But they are also stirring a debate about how much control governments should cede over valuable resources—even in hard times. Some critics question whether water quality will take a hit and rates will jump, as was the case in earlier privatization arrangements.

Others say bottled water produces plastic debris and undermines a public right to affordable drinking water.

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Comment: Privatization is the way to go. For one thing, it would promote conservation.

Can private sector, sensors, innovation save our waterways?

Environmentalism has become detached from innovation and that’s killing our waterways unless we use technology to bolster real-time monitoring.

That was the message of John Cronin, CEO of Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. Speaking at the IBM blogger day in Armonk, Cronin outlined how the Hudson River in New York has become a great big technology project. The idea: IBM and Beacon, which is developing technology, systems and sensors to monitor water in real-time, aim to create the equivalent of a water weather report.

At any time, Beacon will be able to monitor pollution flows, water changes, barometric pressure and other data. Next up is the innovation needed to deploy these systems and replicate elsewhere. “I can tell you the weather and barometric pressure anyplace in the world. Can you tell you what’s in drinking water now (and) where fish are? We don’t have information yet,” said Cronin.

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Comment: Great ideas. The more privatization the better.