Tuesday, February 16, 2016

#47 / Water Market Watch Out!

Pictured is the Bangkok floating water market. This is not the kind of water market I am thinking about today. 

The Water Maven, whose real name is Chris Austin, writes a daily compendium of news about California water. It's free to subscribe, and if you'd like to do that, you can click right here to get yourself to a webpage that will let you sign up for daily email alerts. 

A week or so ago, the Maven's Notebook alerted readers to a new bill introduced into the California State Legislature by Assembly Member Bill Dodd. Dodd's bill is AB 1755, entitled "The Open and Transparent Water Data Act." 

The Maven said that the purpose of the bill is to "create [a] more robust water market." Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, hailed the bill. He said, “California's current water transfer market is inefficient. With the right market signals, water agencies and private capital will want to invest in conservation and improvement of our water delivery system. California leads the world in developing new and innovative technologies. It's time to take the first step and invest in a better water information system.”

It is almost always a good idea to find ways to make good information more available, and that is what Dodd's bill is aimed at. However, I want to provide a cautionary "watch out" warning. A water market is a mechanism for making sure that those with the most money can buy what they want, and those water "transfers" mentioned by Jim Wunderman may have negative impacts in the places from which the water is transferred. Traditionally, we have assumed that water is place-associated; in other words, if your community has water resources, those water resources will remain in, and be utilized in, your community.

Water "markets" change that assumption. A local community whose water resources are adequate for that local community may find that the water it has relied upon to meet local needs will be "sold" to a higher bidder, usually some large, municipal water agency in the Central Valley or Southern California.

The rule of "markets" is the "Golden Rule." Those who have the gold make the rules.

This is not always the best system, when a necessity of life is what's being sold in the market.

Consider this blog posting your Water Market Watch Out.

Heads up!

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