Water remains high up in U.S. consciousness. Ongoing shortages were a hot topic here two weeks ago.
The other day we pointed toward a picture story highlighting the opening of a new sewage to tap water facility in Southern California.
Turns out that this wasn’t this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©‘s first cut at the story. Two months ago we riffed extensively on this new facility.
Eileen Zimmerman has a detailed analysis that appeared at Slate.com recently; worth checking out.
Today, we look at water supplies for Southern California from a northern (California) perspective.
Turns out farmers up there are perfectly willing to forego the pesky business they’re supposed to be in, farming, in order to furnish water to the thirsty south. Water they receive discount rates for.
Anybody see anything wrong with this picture?
Calif. farmers want to sell water
By GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press Writer Fri Jan 25, 4:15 PM ET
FRESNO, Calif. – With water becoming increasingly precious in California, a rising number of farmers figure they can make more money by selling their water than by actually growing something.
Because farmers get their water at subsidized rates, some of them see financial opportunity this year in selling their allotments to Los Angeles and other desperately thirsty cities across Southern California, as well as to other farms.
“It just makes dollars and sense right now,” said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer who grows rice, wheat and other crops in Northern California’s lush Sacramento Valley.
Instead of sowing in April, Rolen plans to let 100 of his 250 acres of white rice lie fallow and sell his irrigation water on the open market, where it could fetch up to three times the normal price.
So let me get this straight: Sacramento Valley farmers can make more money selling water (re-selling, actually, since they import it from elsewhere) than from growing rice and wheat?
Water on California’s open market typically sells for $50 per acre-foot in wet years. But now it is expected to go for as much as $200. Farmers, however, pay $30 to $60, rates that are set under state and federal policy. (An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre to a depth of one foot.)
And of course, if rice and wheat don’t get to market in the expected quantity, guess what happens to those prices? And this wouldn’t be a regional issue:
What effect these deals will have on produce prices remains to be seen, because the negotiations are still going on and it is not yet clear how many acres will be taken out of production. But California grows most of the nation’s winter vegetables and about 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and is the No. 2 rice state, behind Arkansas.
This is how free markets work in a capitalist society. Repeat after me: free markets – good. But, of course, these markets are not truly free: where, after all, do those water subsidies come from?
Don’t have to be a card carrying curmudgeon to find all this parched of logic.
[Please click the link below for the complete article -- but then please come on back!]
Appropriately, California has adopted cinematic tactics to deal with its water shortages:
Recycle sewage to create tap water (good!), while growing fewer food crops (bad!) in order to sell water to those folks who won’t drink the recycled stuff (ugly!).
Casus belli, indeed.
It’s it for now. Thanks,
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