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Water Strategy

A market for environmental water? What does that mean?

Apr 03, 2018

The latest California Water Blog story Brown is the new gold: Water strategy is starting to pay dividends says "Governor Brown has unveiled a sweeping new strategy, “Brown is the New Gold,” to simultaneously make California more robust to drought, secure private water rights, buffer California’s growers against disastrous losses from a looming national trade war, and facilitate a market for environmental water."  A market for environmental water?  What does that mean?

The article goes on to say, "And now, Brown’s vision and a quirk in California’s water law have combined to form a system that secures farmer’s water, increases water for fish, and solves the problem using a market strategy – without one penny of government funds."

So this new 'Brown vision' will secure farmer's water and increase water for fish?  That's a new one.  And no government funds.  Great.

Here's the linchpin of the vision:  "Brown began quietly laying the groundwork through the end of the recent drought. Reductions in urban water use, largely from the browning of outdoor landscapes, greatly reduced urban water use with minimal economic impact. This promises to make more water available for agricultural and environmental uses into the future."  

Remember that urban water use accounts for about 10% of the state's water use, and Brown's 'vision' was to cut 25%, or 2.5% of overall water use.  This is the water that's supposed to be available for ag and the environment?  2.5% will secure  farmer's water and increase water for fish?  

But wait, there's another provision of the plan where environmental water could be sold to ag..."Under one provision of the new plan, the State would be able to sell farmers environmental water if crop prices are high."  

So the state took water from farmers for the environment without any compensation to farmers, but will now sell that same water back to them.  Great.  Farmers have to buy back what used to be their own water.  

Great plan if you're a governor, not so great if you're a farmer.


Brown is the new gold: Water strategy is starting to pay dividends

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