Major investors are increasingly on the lookout for water risks in their portfolio companies or across industries in which they may be invested. For instance, a savvy investor may be wary of buying stock in companies whose operations need more water than is readily accessible, like a food company depending on crops from drought stricken areas, or in companies that might be liable for tainting local water supplies – as has been alleged of oil and gas extraction companies, including those doing business in California.
California has many unmet needs in its water system—most notably in the areas of flood protection, safe drinking water, stormwater treatment, and ecosystem support. While dedicated funding over the long term has been hard to come by, water bonds have helped fill some gaps in these areas. Looking at how the 2014 water bond is being spent can give us some insights into how bonds are turned into projects on the ground. This is particularly important as three new bond proposals are floated for 2018.
Climate change is now a credit issue for city and state governments vulnerable to extreme weather events and natural disasters made worse by global warming. And that will make a complicated problem a lot easier for people to understand, because it could hit them where they feel it: in their wallets.
When it comes to inspecting dams, California is second to none. A panel of national experts examined the state’s Division of Safety of Dams last year and declared it tops in the field, citing inspectors’ knack for flagging small problems before they turn serious. Getting dam owners to fix those flaws quickly is another matter.
From the San Jose Mercury News, in a commentary by Richard Santos:
In the midst of exceptional drought conditions, a new, locally controlled, drought-proof water source for Silicon Valley could not have come at a better time. The Santa Clara Valley Water District, in partnership with the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara, is celebrating the completion of the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center.
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators are negotiating a new water bond that would go before voters in November. If negotiations break down in the next few weeks – and we hope they don’t – voters would decide on a flawed $11 billion water bond crafted in 2009.
Bureau of Reclamation Acting Commissioner Lowell Pimley announced that Reclamation will provide $1.29 million to nine projects for Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Feasibility Studies. These nine projects are located in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas.
Lawmakers in Sacramento representing various factions in the water debate are squabbling over what to include in a bond they submit to voters on the November ballot, or whether to just scrap the whole thing and wait for a better time. There will probably be no better time.
“Capping a rare instance of congressional compromise, President Barack Obama signed a $12.3 billion water projects bill Tuesday, financing improvements ranging from a harbor expansion in Boston to flood control in Iowa and North Dakota. … The new law will pay for 34 new projects over the next 10 years.”
“President Obama on Tuesday signed authorization for 34 Army Corps of Engineers water-related projects nationwide, including a long-sought green light for restoration projects in Dry Creek, allowing badly needed reservoir water to continue to flow sufficiently to meet the needs in Sonoma and northern Marin counties without an estimated $300 million bypass pipeline.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Doris Matsui:
“Congress came together last month to pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses. The Senate approved it 91-7, and the House vote was 412-4; the entire California delegation supported it. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed the act.”
“About $120 million in new federal spending is headed for the greater Sacramento region over the next 18 months for water and flood-control projects.
“The funding, announced Tuesday, is part of a “work plan” budget allocation for the the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue projects through the current fiscal year, which runs through September.”
From the Eureka Times-Standard, in a commentary by Nicholas Bertell:
“The demand for water and water investments is going to continue and investors will see a continued number of ways to invest in our most valuable commodity. There are over 400 companies in the water business, but the easiest and probably the least expensive way to invest is through Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).”
“From the road skirting its property line, Freestone River Ranch looks like a flat, cattle-trodden pasture flanked by rolling hills. But Jay Ellis, founder of the private equity firm Sporting Ranch Capital Management, sees something sparkling in the distance. … Mr. Ellis isn’t particularly interested in drinking this water. The real value he saw when he bought this 204-acre ranch a year ago was as a premier private fishing retreat 20 minutes from Park City.