Unlike some deserts, California’s Mojave Desert is full of life. … Life in the Mojave is sustained by underground aquifers and springs, many of them formed over thousands of years. These aquifers support surrounding communities, including Native American tribes, and some 2,100 jobs in tourism, mining, ranching and other industries.
It has become popular to lament how slowly California is embracing water markets. … Markets may be part of the solution, but only where implemented carefully. Take groundwater. In many areas, decades of unfettered pumping have depleted aquifers, resulting in dry wells, deteriorating water quality, depleted streams and infrastructure damage.
One of the worst droughts in state history is pushing water prices to record levels — fraying nerves, eroding bank accounts and stress-testing the state’s “water market,” an informal and largely hidden network of buyers and sellers.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources have scheduled a negotiation session with seven Cross Valley Contractors on long-term conveyance contracts for the delivery of federal Central Valley Project water conveyed through state-owned facilities.
“Redding is looking to transfer some of its water to the parched Bella Vista Water District. A proposal to provide up to 1,200 acre-feet over the summer makes its way to the Redding City Council Tuesday night.”
“A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal District Court for the Eastern District of California against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, stating a proposed package of San Luis and Delta Mendota Water Authority transfers require a full environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act.”
From The Sacramento Bee, in a commentary by Mariel Garza:
“[Ken] Tucker stood before the Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday pleading with the five officials and his fellow farmers not to try to stop a controversial water transfer deal that will ship groundwater from Merced County across the county line north to farmers in Stanislaus.”
“A federal appeals court says environmental reviews were properly done on the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer, the latest ruling to uphold a 2003 agreement on how California agencies divide that state’s share of Colorado River water.”
“The fight for water during the drought pitted Merced County farmers from opposite sides of the county against one another in an emotional and lengthy Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. At issue was a controversial contract allowing two private landowners in Merced County to sell up to 23,000-acre feet of groundwater to Stanislaus County.”
“On split votes Tuesday, the Modesto Irrigation District board made it easier on several fronts for farmers to buy and sell water locally. But participants still might have to provide some private well information.”