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Posted Wed Dec 1 2010: from Earth Institute:
California's Water Rights Controversy: Should Farmers Be Allowed to Transfer Water to Developers?
Two farmers in San Joaquin Valley, California have recently come under scrutiny for proposing to sell their water rights to developers. As a part of the Dudley Ridge Water District they have the right to draw up to 57,343 acre-feet of water per year from the California State Water Project. (An acre-foot is the amount it takes to cover an acre of land in a foot of water - about twice as much as an average household uses in a year.) The California Department of Water Resources defines its State Water Project as "a water storage and delivery system of reservoirs, aqueducts, powerplants and pumping plants," 30 percent of which is set aside for agriculture and from which farmers are allotted their yearly supply. Under this potential sale, the farmers would be paid a total of $11.7 million dollars, as they sell the water at a price of $5,850 per acre-foot to the Tejon Ranch who will have access to 2,000 acre-feet per year. This kind of arrangement is not limited to these two farmers, and is an increasingly common occurrence as the water a farm has access to becomes more valuable than the returns from actually growing crops. Last year, the Dudley Ridge Water District sold 14,000 acre feet of water to the Mojave Water District for a total gain of $73 million. While the idea of transferring water is not new, the main difference is that while up until this point the majority of water transfers have been temporary agreements between districts, this is a permanent transfer of water.... Another commonly echoed argument against permanent and long-term water transfers is that it gives farmers an unfair advantage since they pay a mere $500 per acre-foot compared with the districtís selling price of $5,850 per acre-foot.
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'Doc Jim says:
"Farming water" seems a little bit of a stretch, but not at those profit margins.

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