The Use of Eminent Domain to Take Over Private Water Companies in California Part I: The Case of Apple Valley’s Proceedings to Acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Company

The use of eminent domain across the world can often be a contentious process regardless of what property is being taken. In China, the City of Beijing evicted an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes in the city to make way for the buildings and infrastructure needed for the Olympics. In some instances, the citizens were not justly compensated, and developers would take drastic steps to force unwilling residents to move from their properties. In the City of Kunming, an elderly 83 year-old woman refused to vacate her property after her neighborhood was slated for development. To drive her out, the developer leveled all of the properties around her home, cut electricity and dug a two meter deep mote around her house. Yikes. Continue reading

After the Election – The Potential Effects of a Donald Trump Presidency on Water Policy and the Agriculture Industry

We witnessed an amazing turn of events over the last week. At the time of publishing my Hydrowonk post last week, virtually every major poll had Hillary Clinton winning the presidency, some by a wide margin. Polls from major media groups, such as The Los Angeles Times for example, assumed that Clinton would win 352 electoral votes. Other polls projected that the Democrats had a very good chance of retaking the Senate. Instead, Donald Trump secured 290 electoral votes (at the time of publishing this post, Michigan still has not certified the final presidential results) by sweeping key swing states in the Midwest and flipping traditionally blue states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Harvard Business Review argues that relying on telephone calls to get accurate polling data is an outdated and inaccurate system now that most phones have caller ID, thus making it more likely that people will not pick up the phone for a pollster. Further, polls can tell you who a person may vote for, but it cannot guarantee that the person will make it to the polls on Election Day. But regardless of the causes for the very wrong polling data, Donald Trump now begins his transition as President-elect while retaining majorities in both the House and Senate. Continue reading

Water Issues on the Ballot in the 2016 Election

With Election Day upon us, are you getting voter fatigue? If so, you are not alone. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted between October 28th and November 1st, one question asked, “Has the 2016 campaign made you feel more excited, disgusted, or neither?” An overwhelming 82% of respondents said that the 2016 campaign cycle made them feel more “disgusted,” with only 13% saying the election made them feel more “excited.” Also, the poll is telling because only 3% were undecided by answering “neither.” Regardless of your political affiliation, this has been a long and divisive campaign cycle. We have witnessed much drama at the top of the ticket, from Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” to the multiple FBI reviews of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. These issues as well as the in-fighting within the Republican Party which escalated when House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow House Republicans in early October that he would spend the last month before the election “focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities” have distracted the American public from some of the real challenges that our nation faces. Continue reading

Drought in the Northwest – Will La Niña Provide any Relief this Winter?

Last winter, California was supposed to bear the brunt of a “Godzilla El Niño” that would go a long way towards alleviating the drought here. Instead, a host of atmospheric conditions largely sent storms that most meteorologists predicted would hit California to the Pacific Northwest. As such, Northern California, Oregon and Washington experienced the majority of the storms while Southern California largely remained warm and dry. The winter storms helped to alleviate the drought in Oregon, but not completely erase it. According to the US Drought Monitor, extreme drought covered 67.29% of Oregon a year ago and 67.96% of Washington State. Currently, 32.78% of Oregon and 92.09% of Washington are drought free. Only 2.63% of Oregon’s land area has severe drought; Washington has none. During the winter of 2015-16, storms that many meteorologists initially believed would “bust the drought” in California eventually tracked to the Pacific Northwest. From December 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016, Seattle received more than 25 inches of rain – one of the soggiest winters on record. However, the lingering effects of the drought remain in both states. Low reservoirs, drought-affected forests and tough growing conditions have all presented challenges to the Pacific Northwest. Continue reading