The McKinsey Global Institute has published a new report entitled Urban world: Cities and the rise of the consuming class (2012) on increasing global urbanization and meeting the increased demands associated with urban consumption, including municipal water demands. The speed and scale of urbanization today is unprecedented in global history and, significantly, is distributed unevenly, with the majority of urban growth occurring in emerging regions.
California Senator Dianne Feinstein has been taking flack from the Progressive Left recently about legislation she introduced into the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 regarding water transfers in the Central Valley. Critics have charged that the water transfers language was added secretly and will allow a small group of landowners in the Central Valley to make untoward profits from marketing water. One such critique was launched by Patricia Schifferle in the Sacramento Bee this week. Sen. Feinstein has answered critics regarding process, and I will let her handle that, so this post focuses on the substantive language and what it does for water transfers in the Central Valley. (UPDATE: Sen. Feinstein made a substantive response to Ms. Schifferle after my original post.)
The UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has released a new reform proposal for water resources, entitled Water for Life. While we generally think of the UK as a relatively wet place, Defra identified a number of water challenges facing the nation, including over-abstraction from rivers and groundwater basins, point and diffuse source pollution, projected future population growth and climate change. Water for Life collects a number of more specific reform proposals to form an integrated national water policy for approximately the next 20 years.
I have been asked several times in the past few weeks whether California mutual water companies are authorized to transfer water to non-shareholders at a profit. It appears some activists have begun arguing that California Public Utilities Code § 2705 prohibits mutual water companies from making money on water transfers. This challenge is part of a broader opposition to water transfers in the state, based on a public policy concern that some individuals are profiting from selling water, which is a public resource. As I explain below, § 2705 does not prohibit mutual water companies from transferring water to non-shareholders at a profit, and California law generally supports the right of any water rights holder, mutual or otherwise, to sell water for financial remuneration.
Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (Judge Wanger) issued a decision in Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority v. U.S. Department of the Interior, Case No. 1:10-cv-0712 OWW DLB (August 2, 2011), holding that Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors in the Sacramento Valley are not entitled to an area of origin priority over contractors in the San Joaquin Valley (see general area map below). This decision is the latest in a long series of disputes between north-of-Delta and south-of-Delta contractors, with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) in the middle as owner of the CVP.