Harvard’s Continuing Education in California Groundwater Rights
On January 22nd, Reuters posted an article “Harvard Buys Water Rights in Drought-Hit Wine Country.” An email flurry broke out with seemingly everyone in my contact list sharing a link. The article reported that the Harvard Endowment “has quietly become one of the biggest grape growers in California’s drought-stricken Paso Robles wine region, securing water well drilling permits to feed its vineyards days before lawmakers banned new pumping.” According to Reuters, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the $36 billion Harvard Endowment Fund has spent more than $60 million to acquire 10,000 acres in Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County since 2012. Harvard’s entity now numbers among the top 20 wine growers in Paso Robles.
Reuters asks was Harvard’s move a “well-timed water play”? Is it? Nope. Instead, it is covering itself from investing in vineyards in a region with a rapidly increasing groundwater overdraft problem. Continue reading →
Water Transfers in the West released last December by the Western Governors Association and the Western States Water Council presents a comprehensive framework to achieve the policy goals of western governors, who passed the following policy statement in 2011:
“The Western Governors believe states should identify and promote innovative ways to allow water transfers from agricultural to other users (including urban, energy and environmental) while avoiding or mitigating damages to agricultural economies and communities.” Continue reading →
November 2012 was desalination month in California. The San Diego County Water Authority approved a 30-year agreement with Poseidon Resources to buy up to 56,000 acre feet (AF) per year of desalinated seawater produced from the Carlsbad Desalination Plant. With the annual price tag of water set at $2,041/AF to $2,295/AF (later reduced to $1,917/AF to $2,165/AF when San Diego secured project financing at unexpectedly favorable terms), there is buzz about what the deal says about the value of water. As with any venture, the project also has critics about the cost of water, skeptics about risk allocation, and cynics about the role of a private party. Continue reading →