Sunday, March 8, 2009

Drought turns off subsidized federal tap at deadbeat Westlands Water District

Kirk James Murphy writes a fine, fiery post in Fire Dog Lake about the infuriating paradoxes of subsidized water in a dry state: California's vast Delta -- the largest estuary on the Pacific Coast of the Americas and the hub of the state's sprawling water projects -- shows every sign of ecological collapse. … The largest straw sucking up the subsidized Federal [Central Valley Project] water … belongs to the Westlands Water District. . . who've been stiffing taxpayers for almost half a billion dollars. Will California's recent drought and chronically unsustainable water use finally stop the flow of Federally subsidized water to the wealthy deadbeats in the Westlands Water District?

… For decades, we taxpayers have been subsidizing the water that flowed to Westlands through the Federal project that Westlands never paid for. Why did it take a drought for the Bureau of Reclamation to turn off the tap to a few hundred wealthy families who've been welshing on their bill to Uncle Sam for decades?

…Some of the Westlands farmers are really good at harvesting subsidies. They get one subsidy in the form of low cost water. They get a second Federal farm subsidy for some crops grown with Federally subsidized water. They get a third Federal subsidy in the form of below market-rate power supplied to pump the Federally subsidized water that their Federally subsidized crops require.

A few years ago, the clever subsidy farmers of the Westlands Water District tried to grab a fourth subsidy. They wanted perpetual rights to the subsidized Federal water that flows to them over the Federal water project (the one on which they owe the $490 million). . . and they wanted to turn around and sell the subsidized irrigation water to cities. At city prices. Which means $20 to $40 billion for the few hundred Westlands families to share. Not surprisingly, perhaps, DiFi might have been in on the deal. Surprisingly, however, the deal fell through. . . for now.

Though I'm genuinely sorry for the loss of work and income to the agricultural laborers and all the people who worked on the Westlands Water District farmlands, it's hard to find much sympathy for a few hundred wealthy deadbeat families who tried to use their own toxic mess as an excuse to siphon away billions of dollars of public wealth. …

A broken levee on the Sacramento River, US Army Corps of Engineers

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Historically, Westlands has received only about 700 thousand acre feet annually. How is Westlands the biggest straw???

This merely a propaganda spin on the truth!!!