I very much enjoyed this New York Times story on how Westlands Water District is funding faux Latino grassroots groups to advocate for breaking environmental laws to deliver more water to their huge farms. I had two main thoughts about the story:
- No mention of Schwarzenegger and the Latino Water Coalition? They were the first to try this strategy in the last drought, also paid for by west side agricultural groups.
- I am more and more convinced that the truly sharp political players in this game are not Westlands with their traceable lobbying funds and visible attempts at political power. More and more I respect the districts immediately south of them, some of whom I had never heard of until I actively started searching for them. Now those people know how to keep their heads down and grow tree nuts. Everytime one of the owners of Dudley Ridge WD sees Westlands in the news, he must think, “Pikers.”
I am pleased to see the issue of paying for infrastructure damage caused by subsidence come up in new venues. I was appalled by one of the suggestions for how it will get paid for:
Should these costs be assessed by difficult lawsuits under tort law, left to an arrangement under the basin plans required under the new Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, suffered by canal owners or flood victims (Ronald Coase lives!), or paid for by the public under some future water bond? And who should be responsible for pursuing these remedies? These seem to be the most relevant points of state policy to resolve while we avoid panic that the Earth is falling.
By bond measure? That’s horrible. The only thing that could be less fair to 99% of Californians than paying for these damages out of the general fund is making future Californians pay for these damages (plus interest) out of the general fund. Future Californians deserve to pay for the externalities of today’s growers even less than almost all current Californians deserve to pay for them.
URGENT UPDATE (1/9): A source points out that a former front site for a fake grassroots organization, waterforall.com now has lovely pictures of horsies (warning, music autoplay). Those are some nice looking horses, so the world is a better place.